Broken Records – Weights and Pulleys Review

Broken Records are an Edinburgh quintet consisting of Jamie Sutherland, Rory Sutherland, Ian Turnbull, Dave Smith, Craig Ross and Andrew Keeney. They’re often labelled as an ‘Indie Folk’ group, but those are two very loose terms in this day and age and to combine them loosens it further. What matters is that their third studio album Weights and Pulleys is released tomorrow and much is expected from them after the positive response they received for their second effort Let Me Come Home. Tony Doogan produces and album that has suggested to combine orchestral elements to the more standard soft rock and folk elements that are already evident. This can often be a difficult balancing act but Tony’s work with Mogwai and Belle & Sebastian and the bands selection of him should demonstrate that they knows what they’re doing.   

‘Winterless’ sun reverbs it’s way into action with driving rhythm guitars and snappy, echoed percussion which bounces off Jamie’s low lying, but smooth vocal which easily sets itself apart from the music and so keeps the lyrical focus. It’s sort of your standard indie anthem but the wistful and hopeful vocal gives you a little more to consider. The title track is more gentle and subtle in it’s opening moments with the urgent handclaps and the nudging acoustic rhythm which the vocal easily laps over in a more calm and considered manner. This simple and soft edged opening allows for a satisfying build up in sound and instrumentals which usher in an increased tempo along with a more prominent hook. This increase in tempo and feel is trigger by the tumbling percussion and the light oscillations of the rhythm guitar. Through this is Jaime’s vocals that aren’t too far away from Brandon Flower’s trademark baritone as it soars of the instrumentals in an effortless fashion. The song goes on to make the most of the build up and build down of sound on the way to it’s conclusion with a gradual and spaced apart riff.

‘Betrayal’ starts with the industrial hammering of the drums that trigger quick-fire riffs and vibrating and indelible bass line that’s topped off with a soaring vocal that echoes and bounces around the instrumental elements. The urgency of the song is then offset by a drawn out and distant interlude before that sudden return back to all cylinders as the song draws to it’s instrumental end. A wonderful cascading piano part opens ‘Toska’ along with a violin to give the opening more flow before it begins it’s plucked string eeriness which is enhanced by the distant chiming of piano’s and synths. The percussion and bass arrive with a rhythm in a noticeable fashion but soon blend into the general atmospheric feel that is complimented by the vocal combinations as the naturally echo back into the music too. A calm, considered and basic approach which worked well here. ‘Nothing Doubtful’ opens with a solemn brass band foray that is succeeded by the Jamie’s melodic and lone vocal. Only lightly shimmering riff join it and eventually the bass as they very gradual build in sound and atmosphere slowly guides the song towards a more euphoric and optimistic feel with a brighter bass section and light rhythm that is added to the soaring and harmonious collective vocal. ‘I won’t leave you in the dark’ offer up that hopeful aspect in a more direct fashion. Tracks such as ‘So Long, So Late’ are more evocative of those classic indie anthems with a vocal evocative of Brandon Flowers that makes it familiar but not so much as to undervalue it. However, this album excels in it’s more obscure and less direct moments. Those moments are where they show their unique style and what their skill really amounts to.

Broken Records – Weight and Pulleys = 7/10

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