Album review – Broken Records

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Broken Records -‘Let Me Come Home.’ (4AD)

Just a year or so after their debut album appeared, Broken Records return with their sophomore effort. The title Let Me Come Home certainly reflects many of the lyrical concerns of their new release, which in singer Jamie Sutherland’s own words saw him ‘thinking about whating on around me in the form of fears and concerns over making relationships work, and a need for security.’ Even before a note is heard -though doubtless by now you’ve heard the opening track ‘A Leaving Song’ as a free download -the album’s pedigree is impressive: it was produced by Tony Doogan (whose worked with other Scots acts like Mogwai, Belle & Sebastian and The Delgados) and the sleeve has been designed by Vaughan Oliver, whose been respnsible for many of 4AD’s sleeves.

The band have evolved over the three years since I first encountered them, supporting Emma Pollock at Edinburgh’s Cabaret Voltaire. A few weeks ago I saw them headline at the newly reopened Liquid Rooms. It was a truly phenomenal gig, and speaking to Jamie a few days later he told me he thought it was the best they had ever played.It also marked the last performance with the band of German ‘cellist Arne Kolb and bassist Dave ‘Gill’ Fothergill, the latte now replaced by Craig Ross.

What becomes clear very quickly is that this is not Until the Earth Begins To Part part 2. It still sounds like Broken Records and ‘Ailene’ is perhaps the closest sounding track here to their old record (I don’t mean this as a criticism, by the way). Jamie has spoken of having almost an obssession with films like Badlands, Rumblefish and East of Eden whilst making this album. This album feels almost filmlike in its’ delivery and execution. ‘I used to dream’ is particularly evocative of those films. In fact, I’d be willing to bet that if Wim Wenders were to make Paris, Texas now, he would look to Broken Records to do the soundtrack instead of Ry Cooder.

That said, songs like ‘You Know You’re Not Dead’ and first single ‘A Darkness Rises Up’ are uptempo numbers that show it is possible to do epic without being bombastic. Another highlight of the album is ‘Dia Dos Namarados!’ which features guest vocals from Jill O’Sullivan from Sparrow and the Workshop.

The advent of the CD player -nearly thirty years ago now -meant that many bands felt pressured to use up all the available space. At thirty seven minutes, Broken Records use half that, and demonstrate that lightning has most definitely struck twice. Sure I’m a big fan. And the reason is, they’re a bloody fantastic band.

*****

Let Me Come Home will be released on October 25 on 4AD.

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