Broken Records are back. They’re threatening a new album later in the year, but for those of us too eager to wait until May, they’ve put together a campaign over on Pledge Music. We all know how crowd-funding works by now, don’t we? You choose how much of your hard-earned to give to the band, and when they’ve finished making all their lovely stuff you get some of it; exactly what you get depends on how much you “pledged”.
In amongst the many album-related rewards is a new four-track EP, Toska, which you can get as a download or a 10” vinyl. Broken Records have undergone a few changes since I last encountered them, not least of which is a line-up shift and decision to hide the glockenspiel. Mercifully, however, the resultant sound is still unmistakably Broken Records; bombastic and ambitious, just like they’ve always been.
Beyond that, even having listened to the record repeatedly over the last week or so, that’s about as much as I can tell you about the first three tracks: they sound like they were written and performed by Broken Records – they have that sound about them – but honestly they were all rather forgettable. Pleasant enough stuff, to be sure, but they go in one ear and out the other all to easily.
So if I’ve got this little to say, why write about the EP at all, I hear you ask? Because, dear reader, the last track is a barnstormer. Revival is vintage Broken Records, but not just in sound and texture.
What this last track has that the rest of Toska lacks is the drive and focus that turned me on to the band back when they were self-releasing killer EPs in 2008.
Particularly when they come with their own string players, bands often rely on a generic ‘epic’ sound to paper over the cracks in their songwriting or the gaps in their delivery – a set-and-forget grandiosity that can be summoned at the push of a button and leaves just as quickly. When they're at their best, Broken Records use their tools in far more inventive ways.
Revival is the kind of song that makes me prick my ears up; there’s a momentum and forcefulness here demands your attention. In this track all the elements that Broken Records have at their disposal are working together, building something meaningful, planting a flag. I’m hoping Revival is a statement of intent, a standard bearer for the LP to come.
Update: you can hear Revival and download it for free over at The Short List.