Broken Records - Until The Earth Begins To Part
Broken Records - Until The Earth Begins To Part

Album Review

Album title
Until The Earth Begins To Part
Artist
Broken Records
Label
4AD
Release date
1 Jun

More info

Playing Moshulu, Aberdeen on 2 June; King Tut's Glasgow on 3 June and Doghouse, Dundee on 4 June.

www.myspace.com/brokenrecordsedinburgh

Broken Records - Until The Earth Begins To Part

2/5 stars
Since Broken Records first emerged in Edinburgh in 2007, Scottish music fans have awaited their debut album with huge anticipation. The Skinny has featured or positively reviewed them several times, but does their debut deliver? Ally Brown places Until the Earth Begins to Part under the microscope.
Album review by Ally Brown.
Published 01 June 2009

Broken Records have had 18 months of building support from fans, bloggers and critics in the run-up to Until The Earth's release this month. A superb self-titled debut EP and regular enchanting live shows all over Britain had them marked as an obvious prospect. In fact, success seemed an inevitability, because unsigned bands as fully formed as Broken Records never stay unsigned for long. That no record deal was forthcoming from the rumoured bidding war until a celebrated signing with 4AD in January of this year was a only a minor concern.

Early comparisons to Arcade Fire might've been directed at Broken Records' passion, melodrama, and self-seriousness; or perhaps it's just because both bands have seven members. A better comparison for their music emerges now - The Waterboys, led by Edinburgh's own Mike Scott. The Waterboys' most acclaimed album, This Is The Sea, was a self-consciously big record, an untethered attempt at large-scale profundity which was difficult to listen to without cringing at its bombast. But Scott's indulgences were overlooked by many because, underlying it all, the songs were strong enough in other ways.

Broken Records' singer and chief songwriter Jamie Sutherland is how Mike Scott would be were he equally in thrall to Beirut's Gulag Orkestra as to Astral Weeks. There are clear Eastern European and Celtic influences on Until The Earth, which is part of the reason Broken Records were so enjoyable in the first place. The rip-roaring A Good Reason fuses boisterous Russian squat-kicking folk with muscular indie-rock, and If Eilert Loevberg Wrote A Song... makes use of an accordian-led polka to similar effect. Broken Records' pianist regularly finds a gorgeous chord sequence, such as in the intro to A Promise, and again at the start of Ghosts. Closing track Slow Parade majestically grows from shivering strings and guitar arpeggios into a dramatic and moving finale, one that should surely one day soundtrack a Hollywood rom-com's happy ending. In fact, Until The Earth's set is consistently strong, and the way several songs are blended directly into the next one provides a sense of continuity that adds to the album's overall cohesiveness. Unfortunately, like This Is The Sea, Until The Earth also presents a challenge to listeners: to appreciate the songs despite the pretentiousness of their presentation. If it wasn't for Sutherland's oversung vocals, the formulaic structures and grandiose arrangements of several songs, and song titles which heap on the pomposity by referencing 19th century Norwegian theatre, Until The Earth would be a classic.

Sutherland has always had a tendency to oversing, but it was masked somewhat by muffling effects on the EP. Here, the vocals are cloyingly forceful and false throughout. It's like when Bruce Springsteen summons up all the strength from his chest before he erupts into voice; his emphasis threatens to suffocate the actual meaning of the lyrics. And when, out of nowhere, Springsteen huffs and puffs a line like "let's blow this fucking place apart", as he does on his most recent album, he descends into self-parody. Until The Earth's opening track, Nearly Home, is reminiscent of a similar vocal excess when Sutherland sings "And rip it up, rip it all apart, this place that our parents built, we'll let it all burn down to the ground" before slurring that final word because he's seemingly too angry to pronounce the vowel. Fourth track A Promise features more bombastic bluster, as Sutherland strains so hard to emote each line: "hhhand if our hearts all disappear, hhhand if our bones they crumble to the soil, hhhand all our love will rise again, hhhand all fall to the sea." Almost every song features instances of such exertion that the album becomes as tiring to listen to as it sounds to perform.

A Promise also demonstrates the other major problem with Until The Earth. Listen to that delicate, tender piano intro: it lasts just a few seconds on its own, and it's gorgeous. Then Sutherland's vocals come in: a little oversung, but the melody is just right, and the story he recites about the burial of a loved one is genuinely touching, for a moment. Then piano chords louden, and my heart doesn't swell, it sinks. A Promise is the fourth track, but it's the third to do this exact same thing. What was originally subtle must now be made epic, the profundity amplified so you're left in no doubt that you must care, harder. Later, the embellishments fall away and there's another lovely strings interlude. But then the drums start to pound and the strings hold and tremble to build tension before, yes, the bombastic climax. By now it's a formula, and it's still to be repeated four more times before the album's end. It's like Broken Records don't trust us to comprehend their subtle majesty, so they decide to hammer it home in case we've missed it. Combined with Sutherland's emphatic angst, it portrays a sense of self-importance that's difficult to bear.

And that is so very frustrating because Until The Earth is an album that could've been "important", as far as indie rock ever can be, had it been recorded with a touch of modesty in mind. The producer could've minimised the gradiosity of the arrangements, not highlighted them. Someone could've had a discreet word in Jamie Sutherland's ear about his vocals. The band could've directed more songs towards un-epic endings. Sutherland could've thought about why the sixth track was like a song as written by Eilert Loevberg, and renamed it so we might understand. Until The Earth isn't a disaster. For many, Broken Records' grandiosity will amplify the obvious strengths in the songwriting. The Waterboys sold millions, won awards and rave reviews, and toured the world, and Broken Records still have a lot of achievements within their grasp. But others will be blinded by their bluster, dissuaded from listening by the forced sincerity and manufactured meaningfulness. Until The Earth Begins To Part is as ambitious and indulgent as its title suggests; and that's a pity.

Comments (56)

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  • Ouch! I would prefer Fisherman's Blues to This Is The Sea. Would still like to hear this one.

    Posted by Finbarr Bermingham | Monday 01 June 2009 @ 15:51

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  • It's less of a review, this, and more of a personal hatchet-job, really, isn't it.

    I feel a bit hypocritical saying it, because I have told Mr. Brown that I really do think a reviewer has to honestly write what they think, but that was before I really know the extent of what was about to be published, and frankly I find this a bit sickening, really.

    If this is being touted as a conversational-style piece more in-keeping with the informal nature of modern journalism, then it should never have been left in the hands of someone who was going to so mercilessly attempt to humiliate a band who have done so much for everyone involved in music in Edinburgh over the last two years.

    It's fine for anyone to think all of this, of course, but why the hell were they the ones left to write the review. Neither reviewer nor publication should be taking any satisfaction for something like this, when it did not need to happen.

    Alternatively, if the reasoning is that The Skinny is a serious publication and such needs to be professional and objective no matter how much the truth may hurt, then perhaps the tone of making sport of a pretty vicious personal attack might have been worth putting a little bit of thought into. Either way, it simply does not work.

    This is personal for me. Obviously I am not pretending to be objective, as the band are very good friends of mine, and I am honestly speechless reading this review, and not a little angry.

    I have never read about anyone else being treated with such extravagant, frivolous meanness in this paper and I am fucking amazed that one of the most sincere, hard-working and talented bands in the city would be the first.

    You should all be fucking ashamed of yourselves.

    Posted by Matthew | Monday 01 June 2009 @ 16:53

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  • It absolutely is not personal Matthew, I barely know any of them. I think the reason you believe it’s harsh is because I’ve used specific examples to justify general observations. That’s not knife-twisting, it’s clarification, and that’s why it’s a very long piece, because I wanted to take the space to clarify all my criticisms. You may also notice that I took the space to say some positive things too, for example, that there are “obvious strengths in the songwriting”.

    My only priority was to be honest about my reaction to the music — not the musicians — and that’s the extent of it.

    Posted by Ally Brown | Monday 01 June 2009 @ 19:38

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  • Nobody likes laying in to a band, especially not when they're nice guys. But it's hard to argue with some of the points in the review - while Jamie has a great voice, he does tend to go a bit far on a couple of tracks. And the production is almost comically overblown in places, which is a real shame. Though I wouldn't have given it two stars, it's certainly not up to what these guys are capable of.

    It's out on Spotify now for anyone who hasn't heard it http://open.spotify.com/album/1cJ1YuZKz1GzUvCJNsQ1kq

    Posted by John | Monday 01 June 2009 @ 20:00

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  • Wow - this is the first review that popped up on Google tonight. Interesting comments. I agree with you Ally; Broken records are ambitious and indulgent which is their greatest strength live.But it is their greatest weakness on this cheaply made recording.

    When playing live, the weight and energy of 7 folk bashing away (ooh-er) is exhilirating. On record , it is exhausting when no effort has been made to seperate the songs sonically. I ended up giving up half way through my first listen. I agree that the vocals can sound forced, grunty in places and excessively earnest. But they can also be energising and beautiful. At the end of the day the voclas sound raw and this will either draw you in or turn you off.

    The songwriting on this album is first rate. Time (and therefore £) seem to have been spent on the first track which throws lush strings at you from everywhich way and draws you in to the record. The first track is brilliant. Thereafter, it feels like most effort has gone into trying to fit everything in rather than letting the songs breathe a little. The extended epic outros quickly lose their impact (balkan jigs excepted).

    I think it just sounds like a piece of work that needs to be stripped back- it feels too bombastic, a bit cheesy and conseuqnetly self-important. WE can all be forgiven for being a bit indulgent from time to time, can't we? night night

    Posted by kenny gee | Tuesday 02 June 2009 @ 01:12

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  • Blimey. Just me that thinks there's a few belters on this record then?

    Posted by John G | Tuesday 02 June 2009 @ 11:24

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  • I like Broken Records but this review vocalises some of the things that I don't like about Broken Records quite accurately.

    In response to people that take umbridge with opinions/reviews: provided it's not malicious and provided the opinions are justified and expressed with integrity then a reviewer has the right to "review". I don't agree that it is a merciless attempt at humiliating the band on the basis that I agree with the points made.

    That said, I do feel the two stars is a bit miserly. If the songwriting is obviously good then should the production, vocals and arrangements bring it down so much when it's close to being a "classic"?

    Posted by Colin | Tuesday 02 June 2009 @ 12:34

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  • "If the songwriting is obviously good then should the production, vocals and arrangements bring it down so much when it's close to being a "classic"?"

    I think those three fundamental factors put sufficient distance between a two star album and a "classic".

    Posted by Gordon Brown | Tuesday 02 June 2009 @ 12:58

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  • Tantrum alert!
    "a band who have done so much for everyone involved in music in Edinburgh over the last two years"

    Seriously Matthew, what the hell are you on about? Don't be so ridiculous.

    I for one, think this is a well-considered, highly articulate and accurate review Ally, you should be fucking proud of yourself.

    Posted by Jillian | Tuesday 02 June 2009 @ 18:15

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  • "Seriously Matthew, what the hell are you on about? Don't be so ridiculous."

    Well for one simple example, the sheer amount of touring they have done and interest they have generated has been incredible. No-one from the wider music industry has given a shit about Edinburgh for years, there is a buzz amongst industry folk at the moment about what is happening up here at the moment, and any Edinburgh band getting any sort of national attention - be it from labels, bloggers, publications or promoters - gets a considerable benefit from that.

    Anyone who doesn't think that owes a lot to the massive efforts Broken Records have put in, playing and touring constantly, plugging other local bands at every opportunity, and putting themselves at huge financial risk to do so, is a fucking idiot.

    Every time I post a promo copy of a new Song, by Toad Records release to a radio producer I see the benefit of that in a small but emphatically not insignificant way, by being treated that fraction more seriously. Failure to be aware of these kind of incidental benefits is naive and just bloody narrow-minded.

    And yes, it's a tantrum. So what.

    Posted by Matthew | Wednesday 03 June 2009 @ 09:43

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  • While I don't necessarily agree with all of the points here, I can't criticise the reviewer having his own opinions.

    However, I have to take issue with one point: what's wrong with a little bombast? What do you mean by 'pretentious' anyway?

    It's got to be dumbed down before it's OK to like it? Bands just have to sing about the dreary and day to day? Please clarify, because to me, referencing 19th century Norwegian theatre is interesting and more bands should look beyond the same old subject matter. Why should the Broken Records scale back their vision and scope just so more people can 'get' it?

    Posted by Anonymous | Wednesday 03 June 2009 @ 10:16

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  • I don't want to piss Ally off because I like the guy and he owes me a pint. However, this simply isn't a particularly good piece of critical writing, and Ally can do better.

    As a reviewer, he's perfectly entitled to his views, and I would like to be able to trust The Skinny's judgement in giving him the opportunity to express them on their behalf. Additionally, I can see where he's coming from on some of the points he's raised - even if I don't entirely agree.

    However, Ally seems to be bringing too many personal preconceptions to this review, and as a result there's a distasteful note of petulance running through it.

    For example, the issues Ally raises with Jamie's vocals. Jamie does have a distinctive and expressive voice, which will inevitably divide opinion as the band's profile grows, and it won't be the last time the singer's performances will be the subject of criticism like this in the press.

    However, Ally refers to Jamie's vocals EIGHT times during the review. Surely a more professional and acceptable approach would be to make your point once, clearly and concisely, and move on.

    And to spend time typing out a dispariging impersonation of a singer's enunciation smacks of taking the piss - and is frankly out of order.

    I think the reason this review has generated such an emotional response is that it can only really serve to undermine the "DIT" (Doing-It-Together - as opposed to DIY - a term recently coined to describe the collective nurturing and supportive nature of Edinburgh's music scene) movement that many local bands are proud of and are keen to promote.

    The Skinny has the opportunity to take a big role in this DIT movement, and while the paper and its editorial staff have the obligation to write objectively and without prejudice, they should surely avoid undermining any progress that's being made in that sort of arena. And if that means being a bit "diplomatic" in choosing who reviews one of the most important recent releases from Edinburgh, then so be it.

    I'm not necessarily suggeting a nepotistic approach where the editorial staff pass the album around until they find someone who likes it, but to give the review to someone who already doesn't like the band is surely at the opposing end of the same spectrum.

    The Edinburgh music scene is attracting national attention at the moment, and if the industry at a national level notice that the local music press can't even get behind a local act - they will soon shift their gaze elsewhere - and that could ultimately harm everyone's chances.

    Now, that would be a pity.

    Posted by Dylan | Wednesday 03 June 2009 @ 12:13

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  • Hare versus tortoise. Broken records prove they have what it takes to be creating, growing and evolving over a period of albums, unlike so much admired yet disposable indie pop.
    This record may well not be perfect, but that leaves room to improve, and I'm sure they will.

    These 2 stars make me sad. This review makes me have feelings like the city (or some of those therein) doesn't want to see this (or any) band grow out of it, despite the potential. Perhaps this alludes to why so few Edinburgh bands have made it - once you start to get big enough, you'll get brought back back down by those who think there getting left behind.

    That's my tuppence.

    Posted by Glenda | Wednesday 03 June 2009 @ 13:16

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  • Nothing at all to do with the record being a wee bit disappointing then, no?

    I think the Scottish media is often guilty of bigging up whatever's indigenous for fear of somehow appearing unpatriotic if they don't, so good on Ally for penning this honest critique. Judging by his message board chatter, it doesn't appear to have been easy for him.

    Posted by Phil | Wednesday 03 June 2009 @ 13:27

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  • I don't think there is a responsibility on the reviewer to praise Broken Records simply cause they are from Edinburgh or Scottish. The NME and the Guardian and others have taken issue with aspects of the album and they have no ties to the band or this country.

    Personally, I think it's a good album and an excellent start to what will hopefully be a great career for the band. However, I would suggest that both the hype and the criticism have been over the top.

    Posted by TSP | Wednesday 03 June 2009 @ 13:29

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  • Wee bit disappointing vs 2 stars ? I think I made it clear this records isn't perfect - I think it's at least a solid 3 out of 5. And that's not to say they deserve a better score just because there Scottish. I'm sure Ally would have given WWPJ 6 stars if he could, and I personally don't like them much so it's all horses for courses.

    Ally, very clearly, doesn't like this record. He has every right to say whatever he wants about it, as do you and I. I think that a lot of things are putting him off. Perhaps because he's a Glaswegian living in Edinburgh he can't stand pomp and ambition.

    Posted by glenda | Wednesday 03 June 2009 @ 13:50

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  • Only one thing puzzles me on this thread: Why is it necessary to leap to the defence of the reviewer, when that defence is generally founded on the premise that he is entitled to his opinion and doesn't need defending? Of course he his and too right he doesn't. The Skinny can devote as much or as little space as it likes to being openly critical in their appraisal of Scottish bands. Its within their gift, and its a credit to a relatively new band that Scotland's cutting edge culture magazine has chosen to go to such lengths to advance what appears to be the most negative review so far of the album.

    TSP talks sense. Lets get some perspective: today's opinion wraps tomorrow's fish n chips. My view is that Ally is right to call it as consistently strong, and the singles and tour should stack up nicely off the release. Others will think otherwise - vive la difference!

    Posted by John G | Wednesday 03 June 2009 @ 14:35

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  • "Perhaps because he's a Glaswegian living in Edinburgh he can't stand pomp and ambition."

    Lol!

    Posted by Anonymous | Wednesday 03 June 2009 @ 14:52

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  • What happened to my comment from earlier?

    I took a lot of time composing an even-handed and sober response, and it's vanished!

    Posted by Dylan | Wednesday 03 June 2009 @ 16:58

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  • What, the big long one up there? I can see it Dylan, and I appreciate the even-handedness (but are you sure I owe you a pint!?).

    I will say that my only personal preconceptions coming into this review were that this was a band I liked! You've described me as "someone who already doesn't like the band", but I've seen them live, I dunno, five times or so, and given them two glowing 4-star reviews for this website! That's why, throughout, you'll see terms of disappointment - "unfortunately", "so very frustrating", "that's a pity" - not anger or spite.

    Re: the 2-star rating. This is one of those albums where a numerical rating system isn't really helpful. As I said in my last para, some people will love this album. For whatever reason, some people just don't hear bombast, so I've slagged off The Waterboys here while acknowledging that they were still very successful and acclaimed. Springsteen has been too, of course! I still think Broken Records can be very successful, and will be acclaimed by lots of people. But for me, personally, it's majorly off-putting. So I think this record will be polarising, and I fully expect people to strongly disagree with a 2-star rating. But having written this long analysis, said what I wanted to say... there's no way it read like a 3 or more, and you have to set the rating based on the text, not the other way around.

    Finally it's absolutely nothing to do with whether they're from Edinburgh or Glasgow or Timbuktu. Of course we like to support Scottish acts, but it's not unconditional. You won't see much coverage from us on Sandi Thom or URBNRI or hundreds of other poor-to-shitty artists. We write good reviews when we like something and bad reviews when we don't. That's it.

    Now I must go, I've got a very positive article to write on another Edinburgh band you like Matthew...

    Posted by Ally Brown | Wednesday 03 June 2009 @ 20:31

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  • I do seem to remember Ally attending an Okkervil River gig on the strength of the support, Broken Records, early last year... am I right? Just because a band is seen to be "doing a lot for" Edinburgh's music scene, doesn't mean every hack is obliged to give them 5 star reviews. If anything, this review has compelled me to hear the record even more!

    Posted by Finbarr Bermingham | Wednesday 03 June 2009 @ 21:52

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  • Aye, Finbarr, it's certainly generated some interest, that's for sure.

    I disagree with Dylan about pre-conceptions. It doesn't seem like that was the case here exactly, except perhaps in the opposite way - expecting too much in a direction at odds with where the band were going. The comments about hating Edinburgh bands for not being from Glasgow are ace. Me too - the fuckers!

    I don't know, do I still disagree with a lot of the way this review was written? Yes, absolutely. Not the actual content, which I may not agree with, but a difference of opinion is pretty much inevitable in music, but the nature of the review.

    As Dylan said, going to the extent of phonetically mocking the singer's voice is pretty dubious, really it is. Mentioning that same voice as often as you do, and then also making allusions to pomposity on so many occasions I lost count - all these things make this come across as more than just someone who doesn't like how the album turned out.

    That said, as Ally has mentioned, he wanted to explain his reactions rather than just throw them out there as random statements, and this is a laudable aim. I really must say that I don't think he succeeded though.

    As much as the aims may have been right, this still reads like an emotional hatchet job to me, largely due to all the repetitions mentioned above, especially given that every compliment reads like a weak qualifier and every criticism like it was inflicting unbearable suffering. Maybe this was due to the pressure of writing a review he must have known would generate this sort of reaction. Very difficult to be clear-headed under those circumstances.

    Still, to agree with some of the points made by teh haterz (TM) above, what the fuck else is a reviewer supposed to write other than what they think? And what else is the Skinny supposed to publish? If anyone covering music does not like the music they are covering then they pretty much only have the option to say so, because a vacant, insincere puff-piece would have been much worse.

    Although wider appreciation is actually important, Finbarr. I would happily say that I despise Young Fathers' music, but I would still acknowledge that their turning the eyes of the NME this way is a benefit for everyone involved in music in the city, because it doesn't happen very often, and as such even the tea-cosy alt-folk acts around here do owe them a degree of appreciation.

    So, erm, yes, not much of a conclusion really. Not happy with the review or how it was written, but I appreciate where it was coming from in some ways. So, er, fair enough in many ways, but fuck yous all anyway.

    "insert smiley face here"

    Posted by Matthew | Thursday 04 June 2009 @ 03:23

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  • That Glasgow comment was funny, but there's an obvious zing here that I can't believe nobody's made yet...

    Posted by Ally Brown | Thursday 04 June 2009 @ 12:36

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  • Glasgow loved Broken Records last night...so that is no excuse!!!

    Posted by Tom | Thursday 04 June 2009 @ 12:41

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  • Yes BR were fantastic last night - I'm shocked to read the vocals bring repeatedly criticised for being too earnest??! (call me old fashioned but I rather like it when lyrics are sung passionately) I also don't understand how the reviewer could love them live then make such disparaging comments about the vocals on the album - they are a prominent part of their live show and sound identical on record! Something not right about this review...

    Posted by Elizabeth | Thursday 04 June 2009 @ 13:26

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  • I don't actually agree with the vocals sounding identical on record and live. I have listened to the album on repeat for the past 3 days and then watched the live video over at songbytoad. I have also seen them live on numerous occasions over the past 2 years. I have never ever disliked Jamie's voice, in fact I think he's a great singer, but the live vocal on the toad recordings is better than the album vocal. Or at least I prefer it. I don't know what's different, but something is.

    Posted by TSP | Thursday 04 June 2009 @ 13:33

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  • Voices are matters of taste, pure and simple, which is why disliking someone's voice never needs to be particularly justified.

    The other thing is that people disliking the voice is probably a good thing. 90% of the most memorable singers have pretty idiosyncratic voices, and those can be divisive.

    People disliking the arrangements, however, might be a little more fundamental, although people have differing tastes in that kind of thing as well, but disliking how the songs themselves are expressed strikes me as a more serious issue.

    Posted by Matthew | Thursday 04 June 2009 @ 14:06

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  • ALLY IS FROM PAISLEY.

    Posted by Broon's Mither | Thursday 04 June 2009 @ 14:43

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  • Ok - point taken - they're probably not identical, but he's criticising Jamie's style of singing which has always been dramatic and passionate (or as Ally sees it "emphatic angst") both live and on the album. Just don't see how you can rave about the live shows but despise the vocals quite so much!

    Posted by Elizabeth | Thursday 04 June 2009 @ 14:54

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  • There's nothing wrong about expressing one's opinions, but I agree that this review is really badly written and to use a couple of adjectives from the review, the last paragragh clearly shows the reviewer's indulgence and self-importance; and that's a pity. I'm surprised and sad that the Skinny decided to publish it. I'm more disappointed with the review than with Broken Records album.

    Posted by Anonymous | Thursday 04 June 2009 @ 15:33

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  • Stop me if i'm wrong here, but isn't it a journalist's job to write with some sense of authority?

    Don't be so fucking naive.

    Posted by Shatman | Thursday 04 June 2009 @ 16:07

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  • I'm stopping you. Define 'some sense of authority'.

    Don't be so fucking tetchy.

    Posted by Anonymous | Thursday 04 June 2009 @ 16:20

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  • I haven't heard the album, but 'Dont be so fucking tetchy' is probably the most notable and perhaps even the most important sentiment expressed within this series of posts. Everyone knows that we ALL have the right to say whatever the fuck we want, so all power to you - all of you. But... am i the only one that thinks all comment features on all sites and forums should be disabled?! (and yes, i do understand the hipocrisy of my commenting here, but i am merely trying to convey some disdain towards the constant barrage of internet negativity so fequently seen these days - let's all hug and chill the fuck out!)

    Posted by Ryan Drever | Thursday 04 June 2009 @ 23:57

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  • He's right, it's just a band.

    Posted by Scroobius Pip | Friday 05 June 2009 @ 00:17

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  • I don't have a problem with this review. Sure, it's a matter of opinion. But as the reviewer suggested, this album might be a bit divisive, so why publish the worst possible view of it? As an example, the first five reviews that come up in google are 8/10, 4.5/5, 3/5, 3.5/5 and "magnificent debut" (no numerical rating). I admit that objective journalism is important, but this isn't the first time that I've seen a relatively small-scale undertaking get torn to shreds. It's not helpful in fostering independent arts in Scotland. Why is the local magazine the harshest review? I know, there's a fine line here, I don't have all the answers...

    Posted by Dan | Tuesday 09 June 2009 @ 20:11

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  • Ehhhhhhh...why should a local arts magazine relinquish its right to be critical of the local arts, good or bad?

    Posted by Andy | Tuesday 09 June 2009 @ 22:20

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  • A well written and considered review - would always much rather read some depth into a critics point, rather than have to interpret generalisations.

    First off I read Ally's review 'cos i love Broken Records - seen them a bunch of times, they're all nice guys and their live shows blow me away. It would've been easy for the Skinny to praise the record to the heavens, but I'm so glad Ally just pressed play and sat back with a notepad, regardless of how incredibly hard the band have worked and, i agree, the massive amount of exposure they've brought to Edinburgh.

    I agree with alot of his points though; there does seem to be a slight formula used, but to my ears no more than is found in most pop music, plus it IS a great sounding pattern to stick with! Plus, this 'formula' wouldn't be a surprise to anyone who's seen the band live - they did get signed to 4AD for a reason.

    I hand on heart love Jamie's voice, think its crackin' - any objection i have regarding BR vocals are that there should be more. The odd backing vocals, harmonies, drones etc would be lush...its always surprised me that, with 7 members, they've never employed a wee touch backing vocals?

    2 stars does seem surprising, but i'm glad Ally went to the trouble of very clearly justifying his thoughts...which he didn't necessarily have to do in some cases. I think we all know that, 2 stars or 5, Broken Records will get all the success they deserve regardless.

    Posted by Michael | Wednesday 10 June 2009 @ 11:33

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  • As someone who knows Ally,I can confirm that this was no hatchet job. He is most certainly a fan/follower of the band and has waxed lyrical about them many a time in the past,also I know for a fact that he had a wager with another Skinny writer that they would sell more records than Glasvegas(this was before Glasvegas had released their debut album though) I think it would have been very easy and comfortable for him to write the review everyone expected "beautiful,epic,swirling,grandiose etc etc" and play to form but why should he?! Billy Hamilton didnt give WWPJP the expected 4 or 5 star review I'm sure everyone thought it would get but yet is escaping an ear bashing,Christ if every reviewer were just given the albums that they were likely to favour then 5 star ratings would be given out like sweets and surely thats missing the point of a review?

    Posted by Someone who knows Ally | Wednesday 10 June 2009 @ 15:10

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  • Fair points, anonymous one, but this was all resolved while you were apparently having a long kip.

    Posted by Terrence Trent D'arby | Wednesday 10 June 2009 @ 15:19

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  • Yeah just wanted to put in ma tuppence worth,I missed all of this while I was away last week

    Posted by Someone who knows Ally | Wednesday 10 June 2009 @ 15:53

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  • I think there are an awful lot of really great songs on this album. It isn't perfect, which the hype may have suggested it was going to be. But it is a bloody great album nonetheless. The reviewer is entitled to his opinion, as I am entitled to mine; but going on the amount of comments here, and the other album reviews, I think he got it wrong.

    Posted by Gideon | Wednesday 10 June 2009 @ 18:48

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  • Eh, Someone Who Knows Me - I actually said Glasvegas would sell more, and they almost got to No.1 but for Metallica didn't they? But that was about commercial viability, not my own tastes for either band. As I said before, I've seen Broken Records live several times and enjoyed every gig, and I expected to enjoy the album.
    Dan - I never read other reviews until my own is written and submitted, because otherwise there'd be a risk of being influenced by them. And while I can predict it will be polarising, ultimately I sit on the 'disappointed' side of the fence, and I've explained exactly why. I'm surprised your googlesearch didn't find the NME review though.
    Michael - that'll do, cheers, your tenner's in the post! ;)

    Posted by Ally Brown | Wednesday 10 June 2009 @ 18:56

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  • Fair enough, Ally. I agree objectivity is important.

    Posted by Dan | Thursday 11 June 2009 @ 10:31

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  • While reading this article I was surprised and a bit angry.
    I'm not a critic but I know what I like.
    this is a debut album of a hard working and amazingly talented band. It is virtually impossible to re-create such an atmosphere within an album that you experiance while watching them live. The important thing is that both the fans and band are happy with the end product.They are still learning and are obviously taking baby steps. The thing that made me most angey is that the article came across as a more personal attack rather than a professional critique.

    Posted by Song lover | Sunday 14 June 2009 @ 02:01

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  • God damn, this really is turning into a Broken Record. Ba-boom!

    I count myself as a fan, but I must say this quickly became an irritating listen. Polarising is the word, let's just leave it at that, okyeahthanks.

    Posted by Gaz | Sunday 14 June 2009 @ 14:07

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  • dude. you're supposed to review the music, not the band themselves. utter fail. methinks theres a green eyed monster at work here....

    Posted by jack | Monday 15 June 2009 @ 22:28

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  • Of course Ally's entitled to his own opinion, however it does read as a personal attack - he has criticised so many things that are integral to the band so how he can say he is a fan is beyond me. In my opinion this band have far more potential than Glasvegas and they deserve to do well.

    Posted by Chris | Tuesday 16 June 2009 @ 00:43

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  • I think Ally has adequately explained why this is not a personal attack - and it's pretty clear that it's not - so any continued discussion on it seems like willing ignorance.

    try and accept that there really are a whole bunch of people who are disappointed by this album, because they expected more from a great band.

    Posted by john | Tuesday 16 June 2009 @ 01:14

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  • Er, when did The Skinny become Pitchfork, exactly? Stop taking yourselves so fucking seriously. That goes for the tantrum-throwers but for Ally in particular. On the basis of that review, you have NO place criticising bombast or pomposity...

    Posted by Alex K | Wednesday 17 June 2009 @ 01:17

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  • Another typically disappointing skinny review. Easily the best album from a scottish band this year - tall poppies mr brown?

    Posted by johnboy | Saturday 18 July 2009 @ 19:07

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  • Another bland as lard comment from some sychophant's armchair. You should apply for Jo Whiley's job, no?

    I congratulate Ally on this involving critique. Screw the anodyne wailing of the dull bastards who can't handle a well-reasoned argument. Take it or leave it, but let's have more of this please.

    Posted by Roxy | Saturday 18 July 2009 @ 19:44

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  • Is this still going?

    Posted by Anonymous | Monday 20 July 2009 @ 10:17

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  • Really good album - thanks for the baffling review - wouldn't stretch to calling it a critque! I quite like lard, it's actually quite tasty if its cooked properly...

    Posted by hobgoblin | Monday 20 July 2009 @ 16:28

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  • Who the fuck are Broken Records anyway?

    Posted by Chuckle Bros. | Saturday 08 August 2009 @ 17:35

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  • I saw these guys at Truck last week and the were amazing, got the album yesterday and love it, but you've got to see them live, definitely the best live band I've seen all year.

    Posted by SarahB | Saturday 08 August 2009 @ 19:13

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  • I’m aware i may be a few months late with these comments but after seeing broken records in the queen’s hall on Monday night i felt the need to comment. Their live show was nothing sort of magnificent. Granted it was almost too epic at times, like it should be accompanying some sort of Braveheart sequel, but the live rendition of nearly home gave me tingles through my spine the entire way through the show. Surely that is what music should be all about. So I think regardless of this review and what you think of the recordings, go and see this band. The finest gig I’ve been to in a long time. Also happened to see frightened rabbit and Meursault just last night. Is it just me or is it a fantastic time to be involved in, and listening to music in Edinburgh!?

    Posted by Edinburgh Musician | Wednesday 19 August 2009 @ 09:39

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