Review : Broken Records - Let Me Come Home
Pitchfork.With their debut, last year's Until the Earth Begins to Part, sweeping Scottish sextet Broken Records announced themselves as outsized emoters who never met a baroque chamber arrangement they didn't covet. They then pitched themselves to an audience of Caledonophiles who worship the crashing songcraft of Frightened Rabbit, the Twilight Sad, and We Were Promised Jetpacks. Compared to their fellow countrymen, however, Broken Records sounded overcooked: too intense for their glossy production, too self-serious to be relatable, and, overall, too reliant on over-the-top dynamics.
Though Broken Records have made no major changes to the aggressively earnest sound on their second album, Let Me Come Home, they have made some adjustments for the better. The overall mood is a little darker and the production rawer. They locate moments of relative quiet or expansiveness, instead of pitching a constant aural assault. And frontman Jamie Sutherland, whose guttural Boss-with-a-brogue bellowing grates, finally allows himself to sound simple at times. When he gives over to his stirring baritone (as on the restrained, sparse piano ballad "Dia Dos Namarados" or the beginning of "A Leaving Song") he sounds haunted and vulnerable rather than like a drunk having a tantrum. Yes, there are still moments when he relies too heavily on his raving caterwaul or an equally irritating Coldplay-like falsetto keening, but they are blessedly fewer and farther between on this album.
Broken Records have been called the Scottish Arcade Fire, but that is true only in theory, because both are huge bands with huge sounds that are obsessed with huge ideas. In practice, Broken Records are actually more like the Killers with accents (or, more accurately, without fake accents). Home's best track, "A Darkness Rises Up", recalls the Killers' own Sam's Town-era Springsteen affliction and plays like a sequel to "When You Were Young" with its insistent piano pounding, dramatically hushed bridge, and unrelenting drive. And like the Killers, Broken Records are strivers that sound so desperate to be liked that they give off a whiff of bloated (and unearned) self-importance.
But that said, the album's overall theme of searching for security resonates-- with the trifecta of "The Leaving Song", "I Used To Dream", and album closer "Home" forming a story arc of a man striking out on his own, looking for his place in the world, and wanting to return home-- and are nicely echoed in homey flourishes of Americana-influenced string arrangements and continual lyrical repetition. The band are smart to end with "Home", a track that not only offers the clearest sentiment (the loneliness-tinged, oft-repeated "let me come home," which is obviously central to the record as it forms its title), but also closes the collection with a swooning whisper instead of a raucous bleat, which allows even the album's most bombastic moments to recede into your memory. Let Me Come Home is still too overworked, but, as that final song proves, it represents a welcome shift toward (relative) musical simplicity and lyrical honestly that shows that the band is heading in the right direction....full text
MusicomhIt's only been a year since Broken Records' debut Until The Earth Begins To Part and they're already back with a new album. If there was a criticism to be levelled at Until The Earth Begins To Part, it was that the sheer quantity of instruments and band members involved clogged their vision - and their arrangements.
But this time around, the song structures are more carefully thought out, allowing nuances and atmospheres to develop naturally. The Celtic folk that coloured much of their previous work is no longer as prevalent either. There's still a folk tinge to proceedings naturally, but it's far more gothic and dour than before.
Kicking off with A Leaving Song, it's clear that sincerity is utterly vital to Broken Records. There's a soul to Jamie Sutherland's vocals that conveys a sense of authority and realism that seems lacking in any number of other bands that attempt to construct an illusory wall of angst around them. Sutherland's smouldering croon is soon interrupted by his band as they hurtle headlong into the first climax of many, Most bands would wait before unleashing the killer punch, but as with so much of Let Me Come Home, Broken Records are in no mood for niceties and opt to explode into endless payoffs that never seem to lose their impact.
Following in a similar vein is Modern Worksong which races along courtesy of militaristic drums and a relentlessly rolling piano figure. "Won't you give me a reason to sing?" pleads Sutherland, his vocals impassioned and leaning towards hysteria as the song builds....full text
ThemusicslutPossibly Let me Come Home doesn’t strike one as the most forceful of LP titles: it’s plaintive, almost needling, perhaps. But the pulse of those 4 monosyllables is juxtaposed with the title of first track “A Leaving Song”, which take a more assertive, strident tone and whose rolling, muscular thunder relays the fact that Broken Records are here, and they mean business on their terms. Yes, this is a record that considers some of the more fragile aspects of relationships: but if it seems like there’s a lot of looking backwards on this record (Let Me Come Home; “We Used to Dream”; “Home”), that’s certainly not the case. Having enlisted Tony Doogan (Mogwai, The Delgados) as producer, this is a group making a manifest step forward from an already pretty high starting point.
“Rolling” and “thunder” are words which can be applied to much of this record, many of the tracks on which are fast paced and layered with an almost demented (but never out of control) variety of instrumentation. “Modern Worksong” has a whirling, industrial-machinelike combination of drums and violins that unfolds organically as the song progresses. “You Know You’re Not Dead” makes it’s point emphatically with one of the most alive, incredibly paced pieces of music on the record. Even the funereal “Dia dos Namarados!” (whose jaunty exclamation mark belies its sombre nature) has a weight supporting the fine duet between frontman Jamie Sutherland and guest Jill O’Sullivan (of Sparrow and the Workshop).
There’s an emotional core to the record which is laid out on top of and underscored by the songs’ arrangements: first single “A Darkness Rises Up” seems to quiver with nerves, while “Ailene” opens with a spike of feedback before launching into a regulated, tightly complex piece which seems to reflect the album’s wider concern with relationships and emotional security; by the end of the song a repeated reference to “you and me” has become a more plaintive “you and me… oh and me… oh and me… oh and me”....full text
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