Review of Broken Records live at Brudenell Social Club, Leeds.
Broken Records are currently being marketed as Scotland's answer to Arcade Fire. Those of you who weren't aware that Scotland had been asked a question by Arcade Fire needn't get too agitated, it's all marketing speak. Broken Records aren't really anybody's answer to anything. They may well be a pretty interesting question to pose to a lot of bands. a question regarding their ability to 'step up to the plate', perhaps?
A few minutes into proceedings, there is a suggestion that perhaps the seven members of Broken Records were not paying attention at the back when the dynamics of a live set were being explained. There they go, all hair flying and youthful exuberance, excitedly thrashing out their most emotive number right at the start of the set. You can almost hear an en-masse folding of disgruntled, be-cardiganned arms as those of us who were listening in class wonder where the hell they're gonna take it, now that they have shot their musical load in the first five minutes.
As it would happen, what most people would consider to be a climax actually levels out as a mid-level moment for Broken Records and this gentle-strings-leading-into-folky-cacophony number is merely an aperitif for some fairly neat and beautiful intensity. There are times when the combination of keys, cello, violin, guitar, bass and vocals all strays a little to close to the middle of the road but by and large, it's easy to see why 4AD have taken these Edinburgh upstarts under their wing.
The apparent nervousness of the band's singer, Jamie, filters into the venue. At some point in his career (when he's done removing his hair repeatedly from his face and placing it temporarily behind his ears, only to find it tangled up in his own eyelashes a moment later), he will realise that politely asking a bunch of semi-sober punters to fill the empty space directly in front of the stage, when there is a perfectly good bar at the back of the room to lean on, will rarely be a successful venture. He does, however fulfil his wish of getting at least some of the audience dancing to their deservedly rousing final numbers (a couple of hedonistic hoedowns that would have Gogol Bordello wincing in shame).
It is of little note to the band, I'm sure, but the cause of some serious chagrin to myself, that those in question who are dancing, somewhat badly, are the same bunch of odious morons who insisted on squawking inanities in my right ear VERY LOUDLY throughout most of the gig, thus reducing my overall enjoyment of the evening by precisely 48%. To demonstrate the general level of intelligence being bandied about at great volume, one opening gambit was the highly insightful "I like the fact that there are so many of them." Heaven help the poor idiot if he should walk in on an orchestra any time soon; he'll probably drown in his own bodily fluids.
So there you have it: Broken Records, a fine and talented band. And there are lots of them. Wow.