Let Me Come Home
, the second full-length from the Scottish rock band, Broken Records, is a corrective dose of passion and sincerity. As the title suggests, this is an album about longing for the hearth, but also, the realization that after a life of rootless wandering, you might not know how to get back there.
Produced by Tony Doogan, (Belle and Sebastian, Mogwai) there are ten guitar-bass-drums songs here, with occasional strings and piano thrown in for decoration. Each song is well-orchestrated almost to a fault, with plenty of electric guitar atmospherics, rolling thunder beats and lump-in-throat inducing, impassioned vocals courtesy of frontman Jaimie Sutherland.
Not surprisingly, the band has been given a hard time in the press for their unabashed heart-on-sleeve leanings and attempted grandiose sweep. There is something cozy about the conventional vein these lads are mining, made all the more seductive by Sutherland's baritone brogue. There are no sequenced synthesizers here, no programmed beats, samples or structural experimentation.
While there's nothing inherently wrong with making a traditional rock album, Broken Records strong tendency to generalize lyrically doesnt help their cause. Aching hearts, fire, desire, souls, dreams, cracking walls, black skies, it's all here, unapologetically and in abundance. Bromides like "Learn how to make each moment count," are typical. If you're trafficking in epic fist-pumpers, it helps to be specific. (See: Springsteen, Bruce: Mansions of glory, suicide machines, etc.)
Unlike their compatriots, Frightened Rabbit, whose fine record, The Winter of Mixed Drinks
came out last year, Broken Records don't have room for a little leavening humor with their tragedy, nor do they have their fellow Scot-rockers pop chops, preferring to keep the material weighty and serious. Because of that limited palette, it all comes down to songcraft.
The band succeeds spectacularly on "You Know You're Not Dead," a simple droning melody, stacks of stereo guitars, perfectly placed cello and pounding drums create the kind of affirming anthem only a true cynic could resist. "Dia dos Namorados!" a duet with Jill O'Sullivan of Sparrow and the Workshop, is a mournful ballad soaked in dark atmosphere. "The Motorcycle Boy Reigns," succeeds despite too much Chris Martin-ish falsetto. "A Darkness Rises Up," borrows the melody from Tom Petty's "Time to Move On," but amps up the pace, breaking out of the bands mid-tempo comfort zone, and features a hyperactive string arrangement that gives the song extra thrust. But there are also more than a couple of generic, minor-key rock songs that drag Let Me Come Home
The album ends with the simplicity of "Home," a remorseful plea Sutherland delivers with an understated dignity that anyone who's asked for forgiveness from a loved one will embrace. Broken Records are clearly shooting for greatness. But their execution hasn't quite caught up with their ambition. That doesn't prevent the simple joys of their best material from making an impact.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
MP3: "A Leaving Song"
Broken Records on Myspace