Cambridge’s Broken Family Band had previously released three albums, all of which were firmly of the irritating variety. Brits trying to make ‘authentic’ country music usually sound heavily stupid, unless they do something very special with it, and that seems to almost exclusively be the preserve of the celtic.
It seems on their fourth LP that the band have left that countrified influence behind, heading in more of a Pixies-style direction of languid, occasionally raucous rock. The languidness works very well, with tracks such as So Many Lovers, or dodgy lyrics aside, Give and Take and A Little Justice.
However, the raucousness is a bit of a problem. Singer Steven Adams is a reasonable enough singer of ballads, but on several occasions he attempts a throaty roar that he cannot pull off. Unfathomably, the worst perpetrator of this is new single Love Your Man, Love Your Woman. This track attempts to build up steam to a rousing crescendo of Adams shouting and heavy layered guitar. Sadly, it ends up sounding forced and inappropriate – just as their alt-country meanderings had previously. Perhaps they’ve gone too far in the opposite direction.
Interestingly, the band enlisted Brian O’Shaughnessy, producer at the helm of albums by Primal Scream, My Bloody Valentine and Beth Orton. The diversity his influence gives Hello Love was a good mood, but the identity crisis The Broken Family Band are suffering from remains.
The directionless nature of this album shouldn’t put listeners off. It has moments that suggest they may end up with a style and identity they can call their own, and perhaps give it a few years and they’ll hit the nail on the head. For those who found something to like in the Beautiful South, there may be a band to demand your attention here.
What you can’t doubt is their attitude. They are a band who insist on fun rather than consistent artistic achievement, and apparently never gave up their day jobs, despite being in a band that this year will enjoy sets at Glastonbury, Lattitude and Green Man. The cult following may grow, but this one won’t win over misanthropic reviewers who don’t have a fun bone in their body.
All in, a disappointment with diamonds in the rough. But they’re probably good live.