This is a gem of a record. Pure, simple and undeniable.
It took Scottish six-piece Broken Records three years to make their third album, and it sounds like every second of it was time well spent. As with their previous work you can spot the musical touchstones. The influence of Arcade Fire and Bruce Springsteen is easy to spot and there is, dare I say it, even a hint of Brandon Flowers about lead vocalist Jamie Sutherland keening voice.
But those presences never threaten to overpower the band’s own sounds. You never find yourself thinking ‘this sounds like so and so’ or ‘this reminds me of that one off Neon Bible’. That’s because Broken Records make their reference points their own. Bringing it all together without aping them. It’s the sound of a band maturing and at ease in their own skin. The magnificent ‘Toska’ is the perfect example of this with its deep textures and scathing lyrics, while ‘Winterless Son’ unsettles with the off-kilter percussions that bobbles to the surface as it reaches its coda, dripping with nervous energy.
After such a stupendous opening you wonder if there is a danger Weights and Pulleys has been frontloaded. Yet, mercifully and wonderfully, there is no let up in quality. ‘Betrayal’ is a stunning composition building slowly and soaring amidst a bruising chorus and raucous brass, while ‘All Else Can Wait’ feels like the comedown, the softer side of things. The comedown after the epic party.
It’s a wonderful way to round off a fantastic album. Invigorating, impassioned. It leaves you wanting more. Broken Records may not offer us anything new. This is not music that will reinvent the wheel. But when a band does such a great job of playing to their strengths, why the hell should anyone care?
Words: Andrew Gwilym