So I was tempted not to review this record at all. I was actually going to avoid saying anything about it because to be honest I think it will be difficult to be impartial and not be swayed by the fact that I know the guys and like them both as people and as a band. So lets get this bit out of the way first:
A) I’ve never really listened to the Waterboys and my knowledge of the Levellers is limited – so I wouldn’t know if there is a comparison to be made there.
B) They sound fuck all like The Arcade Fire.
C) I don’t like Beirut BUT like Broken Records, so no comparisons will be made there.
D) I haven’t read the NME review, I have read the Skinny review and numerous others online.
E) Who gives a fuck about any of the above??
Ok. Thats the housekeeping out of the way, and so to the album itself. Well, I have to say that pure and simply I have enjoyed listening to the album on repeat all day long. I will undoubtedly need more time to properly absorb the tracks and as I do I am sure my opinion about things will change. First off though, for me, it’s not the album of the year by any stretch of the imagination. I’ve already read some people proclaim it as such but these people tend to be the people who know the band and, like me, fell in love with their music through seeing them live in Edinburgh on numerous occasions and getting to know them as the lovely blokes they are. Nor do I agree with the Skinny that the album merits only 2 out of 5! However, whilst I do think the criticism was perhaps a bit strong in that article and perhaps a touch personal for my liking, I do agree with some of the points made and consider that everyone is entitled to their opinion and the band are big enough and old enough to deal with that of that I am sure. What Broken Records have done for the music scene in Edinburgh is irrelevant, the only thing that needs to be answered in any review is “is the album any good” and all other issues matter not one jot.
I admit, I was always worried about this record, simply because I fell in love with Broken Records as a live band and was worried that the production of the record would fail to capture the raw emotion and energy that is delivered by the band in the live setting. And to that end, I’m still struggling at the moment if I am honest – it’s just not rough enough, nor raw enough for me, but that’s a totally personal thing and doesn’t have a baring on the quality of the song writing. And it’s in this respect that the album delivers. Title track aside, every track is strong with stand out tracks for me being ‘Wolves’ and the simply stunningly wonderful ‘Ghosts’. Whilst I do slightly agree with the Skinny about Jamie’s vocals throughout the album (they feel over powering rather than oversung – but I think this has to do with me being used to hearing them in a live setting where everything is much louder, and I got a shock at the power of his voice being pushed to the front of the music), I have to say that the vocal line on Ghosts took my breath away. That song is truly special, just wonderful. All the songs we know and love from the past year or so of gigging are present and correct and its therefore hard to criticise given how much I’ve loved those songs when I’ve heard them live. If this review focused on the production of the record only then it may not be so positive, but on songs alone this album is nothing but a fucking good listen. Sure, I’d have liked to have heard a few more slow numbers myself, but again, that’s personal taste and driven by the fact that I know how good they can be when they bring it right down. Listen – if you can, buy this album and make your own mind up. There are always ways to pick an album a part but if the songs are good, then the songs are good. And these songs are really fucking good. Fact.
TSP Grade = B