Friday, December 04, 2009

Sweeping The Nation Albums Of 2009: Number 28

As the decade wears on the Arcade Fire influence becomes all encompassing, such being the curse of all bands who fancy themselves as string-soaked dramatists without coming over all over-grandiose. Broken Records have the extra advantage of being Scottish, which at least at the moment gives them a hotline to soul-stirring emotiveness (think Twilight Sad, Frightened Rabbit, hell, even Glasvegas). A goodly justified amount of hype surrounded them while making this album, stemming from a stellar, raw self-distributed EP and whispers of a huge live show, and there are times when they fail to live up to what is expected of them - the title track in particular seems to be a post-Coldplay attempt to make something that will cross over ahead of any great artistic statement.

Then again, that's the exception rather than the rule. Nearly Home kicks off with absolute dramatic intent, a huge layered string swell helping Jamie Sutherland's all-or-nothing voice march over the hill backed up by a batallion of fanfare horns. Sutherland's voice is the kicker throughout, capable of switching from cracked to impassioned at a switch, contributing to their own version of Mike Scott's beloved Big Music, a Celtic influenced all encompassing drive. It's only through wearing your heart squarely on your sleeve that leads to determined swirling anthemics such as If The News Makes You Sad Don't Watch It and the klezmer folk dance hidden love song If Eilert Loevborg Wrote A Song It Would Sound Like This, which with A Good Reason later forms indie orchestra's own celidh. Not that they can't carry off a quieter moment, A Promise dripping in regret, Wolves signalling apocalypse with marching drums and doomy arrangements. Everything coalesces on the last track Slow Parade, a decorous waltz with Sutherland treating joy and pain as equal bedfellows before as climactic a close as anyone came up with all year, if not better, a brief pause before a gradual build up to a grandiose string-led validation. Steering clear of lugubriosity for the sake of it, at its peaks it's an explosive treat.


Slow Parade (live)

The full list

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