Broken Records return with their third studio album Weights & Pulleys. Produced by Tony Doogan, it is orchestra meets indie rock, with a dash of musical aggression throughout. If you’re unfamiliar with the sextet, it comprises permanent strings, brass and key members in conjunction with your more traditional band components. This gives them considerable advantage and depth to play with and they certainly take full advantage of that across this new record. Jamie Sutherland, lead vocalist, brings a familiar air to the bands distinctive sound; think Interpol or The Mountain Goats. One can only speculate on whether this means musical influence or the comfort of remaining within commercially successful musical confines.
Track Ditty (we weren’t ready) is a very dramatic album opener; eery guitar and the subtle speedy drums allude to the darker, more rocky side of Broken Records. As you listen through it becomes apparent that Weights & Pulleys is not unfamiliar for its genre, in many cases you can be forgiven for expecting more from a band with such depth. Toska is an example of this dynamic ability, a great track with captivating violin and piano work to bring the track in. This is one of the best songs on the album. In complete contrast So Long So Late just feels to miss the mark, it’s breakbeat gone wrong allowing you to zone out easily because you can’t connect.
This record has its ups and downs, some beautiful tracks like You’ll Be Lonely (In a While) and Nothing Doubtful deliver percussion joy, brass interludes and deep vocal accompaniment which is the bands real differentiator. While other tracks like Betrayal aren’t bad and are quite well-rounded songs but just don’t step too far from the bands comfort zone. These guys could be so much more risky and as a third album they’re certainly showing readiness.
You can’t fault the production quality of some tracks, there is good layering and a nice balance of some competing instruments. Not always complimentary or smooth but you still get a nice sense of the bands ability to marry strings, keys and guitar. Weights & Pulleys is a pleasant listen and the band are not to be frowned at, although more can be done to challenge their make-up. We have a violin, piano, trumpet plus two guitars, a bass and a set of drums to play with. I’m looking forward to hearing more from Broken Records and hearing them push the boundaries even more.