Following a mini-album early last year and support slots for Enter Shikari and We Are The Ocean, Bedford-based four piece Don Broco lay down their full statement of intent on debut LP Priorities, a record that shouts its arrival to the rafters, a pint grasped tight in each hand. Don Broco’s brand of supremely laddy rock – part Lostprophets, part Young Guns – gets off to a running start with Actors, a two and a half minute salvo that doesn’t so much introduce the group with an affable handshake as it throws you head-first into a heaving, sweaty pit of revelry.
The group’s music never quite achieves the refined ease of say, You Me At Six, but for the most part, the chunky riffs on offer manage to carry the record along on a wave of testosterone and enthusiasm. The proficiency of the group’s guitar playing has to be applauded; indeed, if anything, it’s the robust capabilities of the guitar itself that take centre stage here, whether striking with point precision on the agile Fancy Dress or with rough-edged jaggedness on Let’s Go Back To School, it feels dynamic. And dynamism is what Priorities, as an album, feels like it’s trying to convey. It’s about the fast and loose possibilities of youth, a Boy’s Own circuit of banter put to music.
Title track Priorities is the logical focus of the record, the point where the Don Broco template comes together most perfectly. There’s something immensely satisfying about the song, a cocked-eyebrow bit of observation about the archetypal bloke who forsakes his friends whenever there’s a bit of skirt to chase: “when you’re out with your girl, do you realise there’s no-one that wants to talk with you” before singer Rob Damiani delivers the scathing punchline: “it’s because you’re such a bore.” It’s the simple social commentary that Don Broco do so well here, songs that ring true to the most basic idioms of formative identity. Those moments where we realise our limits, our boundaries, the rub of one person’s ego against another’s. As Damiani expounds of his supposed friend’s new priorities; “they’re really not sitting that comfortably with me.”
Whole Truth comes as the upper-cut to Priorities’ leading punch, an equally excellent relationship anthem, upping the lad-stakes further with talk of cheeky photos and promiscuity, but underpinned by painful doubts of male inadequacy, put to an inedible “I wasn’t good enough…” refrain. Both here and on Priorities, the hooks the band have been aiming for on the whole album finally materialise. It’s almost a shame then that the album has to close on You Got It Girl, the record’s token ‘slowie’, an anti-climax of a build up that finally erupts into a heavy-handed platitude to good times.
At their best, Don Broco tote tracks easily worthy of their peers. But more often than not, most of the songs feel like they’re only 75% there; so close to really coalescing into something special. Close, but achingly incomplete, lacking that final finesse. Still, Priorities is very much the sound of a band in their adolescence, bristling with new-found muscles and bravado, on the rise. It remains to be seen whether they’ll reach their real ascendency on their second album, but going by all the right noises they’re making here, it seems like it’d be a safe bet.