Broken Records’ life-affirming output first crept into the heads of a handful of Fugitives - and refused to leave - last summer. On a visit to fellow Fugitive Rowan’s house in London, the first play of If Eilert Lovborg Wrote A Song, It Would Sound Like This grabbed me with the first hint of melancholy accordion.
It was apparent why my friend and Motel colleague had the track stuck on repeat. At a time when listening to music felt like a chore rather than a joy, the song’s unashamed emotion and genuine sense of drama was sweet relief. They could thus be forgiven an unwieldy song title that may even have provoked Los Campesinos! into getting their editing scissors out.
The seven-piece group, all multi-instrumentalists who merrily swap instruments between songs onstage, are the hottest musical property to come out of Edinburgh for quite some time (now, as wonderful a city as Glasgow is, why shouldn’t it share the aural spoils once in a while?) Broken Records’ love of minor keys, complex instrumental layering and brilliant use of dynamics never fails to conjure up a real sense of atmosphere.
Often using the violin - and especially cello - to drive along melodies and basslines, the overall effect leaves your ears ringing without any need to do a Spinal Tap and turn it up to eleven. Those present on the band’s last short UK tour at the Ruby Lounge in Manchester at the end of March will surely agree – it’s hard to fathom whether vocalist Jamie Sutherland’s suggestion that his band were “quiet” on that night was ironic or playful.
Aural reference points include the similarly-sized and composed London outfit Revere and the much-missed Hope of the States. Of course, there’s already been some Arcade Fire comparisons, but what this band have to offer on their debut album may even usurp the brilliance of Arcade Fire's Funeral.
Nearly Home is the kind of grandiose opener that provokes involuntary shivers of the spine and shoulders. Thoughts On A Picture (In A Paper, January 2009) is accessible, whilst still remaining heartfelt. A Good Reason is a furious string-led knees-up in D minor, whilst Wolves proves that band can definitely do tender and understated, too. They may evoke the moody, overcast skies of autumn hurtling towards winter, but Broken Records look set to be the band of the summer.
Broken Records release Until The Earth Begins to Part through 4AD this week, appearing on BBC 6Music with Marc Riley tonight (May 12th). The album of the same name follows on June 1st.
The band will tour the UK in June 2009, including a slot at the Glastonbury Festival.