Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Album Review :: Broken Hands - Turbulence

Broken Hands


October 9 2015 (SO Recordings)


Words: Richard O’Hagan

Sometimes you need a bit of luck in the music business, and in alighting upon a reviewer who has at some point broken nine of his ten sets of metacarpals, Canterbury’s Broken Hands have certainly done that. Not, of course, that they really need that sort of luck, as an empathetic critic won’t get you very far if your music isn’t up to scratch, and on that front they certainly succeed.

Broken Hands do an excellent job of treading the very fine line between marrying electronica with flared out guitars and a bombastic swagger and, well, turning into Muse. Opener ‘Spectrum’ is beautifully bent out of shape but its own scuzziness, lead single ‘Who Sent You’ soars as lead singer Dale Norton’s voice climbs above the pounding melody, whilst ‘747’ refrain about crashing planes will haunt even those who don’t suffer from a fear of flying.

Indeed, there’s a distinctly airborne feel to the whole album. ‘Meteor’, the poppiest number on show, talks about "hanging off a meteor", whilst the slow-burning title track actually (whether consciously or not) mimics an aircraft on a bumpy ride as it repeatedly climbs and plummets.

Perhaps the most extraordinary thing about this record is that it is not so very long since Broken Hands decided to reinvent themselves, ditch all of their old material and start anew. The sophisticated swirling, grinding ‘Should I’ suggests a band who have been at this lark for far longer, especially with the almost Doors-like organ riff that crops up repeatedly through the track.

All of this rejuvenation is helped by some sympathetic production. It would have been easy to take this album completely over the top, but Tom Dalgety’s work with the likes of Royal Blood shows that he can control those given to overdoing it and he keeps a firm hand on the tiller, even throwing in a couple of slower numbers (‘Impact’ and ‘Collide’ - is anyone sensing a theme here?) which at least show a degree of versatility, although they are the weaker numbers on the album.

The best thing about Broken Hands, though, is that they have found themselves a sound which is warmingly familiar and yet subtly different from anyone else’s. On that basis alone, this is an act to keep an eye on.

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