Wednesday, 6 February 2008

Broken Records - Fresh Air Media Ball, The Caves, 31 Jan

Amidst the hyperbolic swill of drool gushing from eager pens, it’s easy to forget Broken Records have, so far, accomplished very little in the grand scheme of things. Sure, a self-released – and admittedly ravishing – debut EP suggests glittering triumphs to come, as does the stream of consistently titanic live showings up here in their heather-strewn homeland, but this is a band yet to venture fully into the gaping, hype-hungry jaws of the South; a band still to decide which avenues will, surely, lead them down the pathway of success.

Yes, I’m as much a part of the unreserved tub-thumping as any of the salivating hacks who’ve scribbled fawning adjectives over the past 12 months, yet after a disjointed performance in the water-dripping confines of The Caves perhaps its time for a sobering sense of perspective? That’s not to say such mesmerising, melodic stallions should be restrained from competing on more unforgiving courses, but, unless properly nurtured and given space to make the mistakes allowed to lesser hyped upstarts, there’s a chance the septet could be led out to stud a little too prematurely.

From the off, the normally hurricane-like foray of instrumentation fails to find it’s gusting momentum, sounding swamped in the venue’s rubble of bricks and mortar. This stuttering start is of no concern to the bow-tie adorning [I kid ye not] admirers here tonight however, as a spiel of cheilidh-crazed shapes are pulled buoyantly down front, but for those of us who’ve previously witnessed the band’s berserk rhythmic clattering thrash craniums to the floor before wrenching them up in a softened melodic breeze it’s a perplexing beginning; one that’s completely out of synch with those pulse-stopping moments found in less echoic, less rabblesome settings.

And it’s this diluted jamboree that bemuses memory-cells recalling last year’s enraptured outings. The likes of ’A Good Reason’ and ’If the News Makes You Sad Don’t Watch It’ - normally rambunctious, rousing epics which inject hearts and minds with an all-consuming sense of vigour - fail to ignite the promenade of sawing violin, zealous percussion and coruscating keys. Even frontman Jamie Sutherland’s ragged, smouldering crow, so often the instigator of quivering neck hairs, struggles to rise above the tepidness projecting across the politely assembled mosh-pit and into the chattering archway of the back-end.

But (and this is a monumental ‘but’ that would be underscored if I was better versed in HTML), in ’If Eilert Lovborg Wrote A Song, It Would Sound Like This‘ and mighty tear-jerker 'Slow Parade', Broken Records have the cavalcade to smuggle victory from the grasp of disenchantment. The former is a virulent charge of sneaky accordion and film-noir piano that succumbs to Jamie’s fraught pleading of “won’t you stay for love” while the latter is a glorious, hope-soaring ballad stinging with raw shivers of unrelenting passion, transcending this reserved display into a sensor-tingling finale.

Strangely, such stealthy resuscitation is what’s impressed most in the Broken Records story thus far. All band’s have off nights, moments of adversary where lingering doubts repress cloud-bursting aspirations, yet the manner in which such frailties are confronted is what truly determines the chiefs from the charlatans. For now, lips may need to be dabbed dry and expectation levels taken stock of but even after a far from perfect showing there’s little debating Broken Records are the real deal.
*Photograph courtesey of lovely new DiS photographer Loraine Ross. Check out her work here

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