Thursday, July 9, 2009

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Broken Records
Until the Earth Begins to part
4AD Records

Broken Records formed in Edinburgh in 2006. They put out a debut EP in 2006, and three singles in the UK in 2008 that caught fire with the British press.

On the best tracks on the album, the band fulfills their intent to be an indie rock orchestra. The band wants instruments like a trumpet or glockenspiel to be as loud as an electric guitar, and that does happen on tracks like “Nearly Home” and “Ghosts.” The overall sound is smoothly symphonic, but with the grit of a rock band. Lyrically these songs are relationship songs, except for “If the News Makes You Sad, Don’t Watch it,” which is political and social commentary.

The concept goes awry on songs like “Wolves” where the orchestra sounds out of tune and out of step, Jamie Sutherland over emotes with his singing. Nevertheless, the good tracks make up for the bad ones, and the concept as a whole is interesting. This is an album to try, to hear thoughtful words set to thoughtful music and to hear a different take on a rock orchestra. []
Andrea Weiss

XL Recordings

Discovery is a super duo. Wes Miles from Ra Ra Riot, and Rostam Batmanglij from Vampire Weekend have created an album of shimmering, summery, light toned, danceable synth pop. There are no snare drums. Handclaps processed to sound like snare drums take their place. Rostam sings one half of the songs, Wes the other. Both are good singers, modest and likeable. Ezra Noening of Vampire Weekend, and Angel Deradoorian from the Dirty Projectors do some guest vocals,

Lyrically, their concept was to embrace and commentary of the past decade, but the concept comes across much too subtly, making all the songs sound like troubled love songs. That’s not a bad thing. Their take on troubled love is smart, especially on the one cover on the album, the Jackson 5’s “I want You back.” This song was recorded before Michael Jackson died, making the song something of a tribute. However, the song is played for irony, so it’s hard to know how much the band takes the song seriously, and whether it was meant as a comment on Jackson, or a compliment. The processed vocals do add a good wrinkle, as the singing is almost inseparable from the music. It’s one more fun song, on a fun album of very good, intelligent synth pop. []
Andrea Weiss

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