Review of Alberta Cross' album Broken Side Of Time released through Ark Recordings.
A couple years ago it seemed the world was at Alberta Cross' feet. Their first single 'Lucy Rider' was a corker, an emphatic statement of intent that brought the watertight harmonics and hazy dreaming of Crosby Stills Nash and/or Young into the 00's in a much more concise way than Fleet Foxes and the ilk. It featured on a seven track EP, The Thief & The Heartbreaker, which offered more promise.
Since then things have been relatively quiet for the New York five-piece, with a drought of live dates and news outside of sporadic support slots for Oasis and Dave Matthews, and the release of debút album has, understandably, been met with less excitement than might have been a year ago.
By no means does this mean the band should be forgotten about however, as whilst Broken Side Of Time may not hold a pop gem as bright as 'Lucy Rider' or follow up 'Low Man' it is brimming with confidence and self-assurance, and takes the formula set previously into new directions.
'Taking Control' gives enough nods to seventies folk whilst injecting a stadium rock spirit that should appeal to fellow beard-rockers Kings Of Leon, and burns at a quicker pace than the majority of the album, which for the most part travels at a pedestrian pace, and at least 15BPM too slow for tracks like 'ATX' and 'Old Man Chicago' to make an impact.
But the main thing that hinders Broken Side Of Time the most and stops it from being a great album outside of its couple of highlights is its refusal to mix soul and sonic annihilation. When the band attempt to tug heartstrings the right ventricle is barely dislodged due to a lack of focus, with middle-distance acoustic plucks veering into nothingness and vocals tested by a need for emotion. Conversely when they whip things up there is no eye to the storm, nothing to hold all the distortion and screeches together.
There are enough signs that Alberta Cross could later blossom into an essential band, but for all the time spent honing their craft and early promise the end result here is more than a little disappointing.