Sunday 15 June 2014

Broken Records - Weights & Pulleys

Album review by KevW for

Y'know how a few years ago, every rock-type band who had a cello or something kicking about in the background were getting compared to Arcade Fire? Well Edinburgh indie-folk group Broken Records fell foul of that sweeping generalisation, despite being purveyors of songs that didn't share such grandiose, stadium-sized power. Their chamber-pop was pared-down by comparison, and less lush and seismic. That didn't stop them from being good, although it may have made them less likely to be headlining Glastonbury in a few years time. If you thought that Broken Records would forever be confined to cult status because of this, then it may be time to reassess things...

Third album 'Weights & Pulleys' is a statement of intent. It's as though the band want to stand on top of a mountain and bellow to the world that it's not just the Canadian mob and other North American alt-rock bands like The National or The Gaslight Anthem that can drop such compelling chunks of musical muscle whilst maintaining their integrity. “Can you hear us now?” they repeat on the statuesque and surging 'Winterless Son'. Yes, yes we can. Stick this onto any album by the aforementioned bands and you have an instant classic. Maybe Broken Records will have to work a little harder to command that respect due to previous expectations. While those early recordings were a quiet triumph, there are songs here that are bigger and bolder than many thought possible. Broken Records have grown in stature quite considerably.

Is this album where the band had intended to go all along? Starting with a track called 'Ditty (We Weren't Ready)' hints that may be the case, especially as it bridges the gap between the first album and the colossus they've become. Likewise, 'Toska' and 'Nothing Doubtful' are the sound of the new and the old colliding, suggesting that maybe they have even bigger things planned for next time; this could perhaps be just a warning shot. 'So Long, So Late' is another blast at the next level, and a highly accurate one at that; the title-track and the rumbling 'Betrayal' have much the same effect, whereas 'You'll Be Lonely (In A Little While)' is something of a stirring centrepiece. Any remaining seeds of doubt are blown to smithereens by the gargantuan 'I Won't Leave You In The Dark'. 'Weights & Pulleys' is the sound of a band living up to every expectation anyone had of them: Broken Records have become a force to be reckoned with. Perhaps we should try and get an Eavis on the phone after all.

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