Album Reviews

Brakes – Rock Is Dodelijk

(FatCat) UK release date: 2 November 2009

Brakes – Rock Is Dodelijk An acquaintance with the Brakes live experience should blow away the cobwebs. Most bands elongate their songs when they perform live, spinning out instrumental solos, but with the Brighton group it’s the opposite – forms are constricted, amps are turned up and the intensity becomes white hot.

This gives them the luxury of turning over the second half of this release to a particular gig in Cologne, capturing in real time the bits between the songs, such as they are, that complete the gigging experience. It works well, for although we hear a couple of songs for the second time, there is a pleasingly lo-fi approach, as if the listener has been placed just behind the drum kit.

Never shirking their duties, the boys offer a no-holds barred live experience. Porcupine Or Pineapple is especially fraut, and with its “who won the war” couplet it sounds more relevant than ever. Eamon Hamilton’s delivery resembles that of Clinic‘s Ade Blackburn at times, with clenched teeth and a pumped fist turning the faster numbers into distorted, twisted outbursts.

There is room for sentiment, mind, and as the Cologne gig allows the band a bit more space Hamilton takes the time to ruminate in Isabel, a touching song whose withdrawn performance actually allows the listener to glimpse more of his heart. It’s soon drowned out in the bluster of Don’t Take Me To Space (Man), but the spell has been cast and the impression remains etched on the soul.

This is also the case with the heady, almost devotional lyrics of NY Pie, a jaunty saunter that takes the band close to Merseyside in sound. “Look in her eyes, she’s a princess in disguise”, gushes Hamilton. These brief yet poignant glances away from the distortion and rush of drums is an important side plot of the album.

Humour is part of the Brakes live experience too, and as they bid Brighton farewell they do so with the five second long Comma Comma Comma Full Stop. Even by their standards it’s a ridiculously short gesture, but still packs more of a punch than other bands’ entire live albums!

A welcome snapshot, for it is that, of the Brakes live experience, in which there is absolutely no padding, total passion and commitment, and the odd wistful aside away from the bluster. They remain a band to be watched, and those already converted to the cause will love this.

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