According to recent research people stop discovering new music when they hit 30. This condition has been given the title “music paralysis”, but thankfully there is a cure. All you have to do is go and listen to new music. Understandably, discovering new genres can be a bit tricky, particularly if you’ve done a fair bit of genre hopping over the years – surely there’s only so many to discover. New bands and music though? They’re everywhere. There’s really no excuse.
Bromide have been around for a good few years now, but this is the first release with new bassist Hugo Wilkinson, and their first to sound like a real full band effort. As luck would have it, I Woke Up is the perfect remedy to music paralysis, particularly for those of a certain vintage who can remember almost all the Ned’s Atomic Dustbin T-shirt designs and haven’t picked up a new album in a good few years. There’s no getting around the fact that Bromide’s influences all stem from a time when jangling, distorted guitar, a way with a neat pop hook and if possible, a Seattle zip code, were all the order of the day – and that’s no bad thing at all.
I Woke Up collects all the best bits of bands such as The Replacements, Husker Dü, Dinosaur Jr, and Teenage Fanclub and pops them in through Elvis Costello’s new wave blender. They perhaps pull most heavily on the J Mascis influence, and with Wilkinson’s addition, the band suddenly has a bass player that is agile, at times aggressive, and that also possesses a great ear for a pop melody (not unlike Lou Barlow). There’s also some fine use of bent out of shape feedback on Postcard From Leipzig that J himself would be proud of.
This might sound as if that Bromide is little more than a band that bows in reverence to its references, but there’s more to them than simply sounding a little like some of the most well respected bands of the ’80s and ’90s. The majority of the album relies on Simon Berridge’s songwriting and pop nous, which has more than enough personality to stand on its own. I’ll Never Learn jangles along sweetly, like a sun-kissed Neil Young rumination on regret. Two Song Slot quickly tells the tale of an open mic slot gone awry, fizzing with enthusiasm and a glint in its eye. Berridge, knowing that great pop songs only really need to last two minutes, crams all the essentials in perfectly. Their cover of Patti Smith’s Dancing Barefoot works well and bends nicely to Bromide’s approach. It perhaps also serves as a knowing wink from the band as its structure almost certainly informs Tale To Tell, the album’s opening track.
At the heart of the album is Ancient Rome, a song that slows things down, strips away the jagged edges and indulges in a little wonky emotional outpouring, highlighting Berridge’s knack of writing affecting melodies. The title track is at odds with the band’s penchant for writing three-minute gems and instead embraces motorik beats and krautrock aesthetics as the band tie themselves to the mast and set sail for the eye of the storm. These ventures into alternative avenues provide the most interesting moments of the album and prove that there’s more to Bromide than meets the eye.
There’s a lot of the past bundled up in Bromide, but as far as new music goes, they sound fresh and vibrant. If music paralysis has set in, they could get you moving again. If you’re under 30 and just want to hear some new tunes, then I Woke Up should be on your to do list.