Today marks the release of the long-awaited sophomore album from Bedford quartet Don Broco, and it’s safe to say it’s almost a world away from debut offering Priorities. Back in 2012 they released their first record to much critical album, their rock-rooted sound pushing them into the path of mainstream rock and building on the DIY ethos they built with a number of early EPs. Now, three years down the line, they’ve done some loosening up, some refining, and with the help of Grammy award winning producer Jason Perry, have released their “signature sound” with ten track Automatic.
There’s no doubt there’s variety on the album, and in the words of frontman Rob Damiani, “we never wanted to limit ourselves to anything; if it’s a good idea, it’s a good idea”, so a lot of unusual touches appear – take the splash of eastern influence in the opening seconds of Superlove. Rapid bursts of energy push the album open, and title-track Automatic continues the power. The first single to be released off the record, it’s an irritatingly addictive number – irritating for its lack of lyrical depth, or lyrics at all.
In fact, this lack of depth is a problem that occurs throughout the album. It’s not the fact that they’ve shifted to a more electronica, funky sound that’s the problem – look at how Lower Than Atlantis added electronics on their self-titled album and it remained brilliant – it’s that there seems little more than a hook or two surrounded by wishy-washy-ness. An old friend once looked a bunch of hit tracks and found what you needed to make one – he found that keywords you needed were “we love fire tonight”. This might have been a joke, but look at Don Broco’s Fire and you’ve near enough got that, alongside the terrible cliche of “you can make me feel alright”.
What You Do To Me looks like it make up for some of the damage as a token acoustic track, but even that disappears once the chorus comes along, whilst I Got Sick looks to hold the lyrical potential but loses it in the delivery that seems devoid of emotion. Keep On Pushing is my personal favourite off the album, with the discussion of kids, mortgages and save the dates lyrically driving the growing-up song, not losing the catchy determination.
The rest of the record can be tackled in one fell swoop – it’s fun, it’s get-drunk-and-dance-around-to-it fun, it’s party-at-a-gig fun, it’s turn-it-up-and-dance-in-your-car fun. Left right and centre are hooks and refrains that demand to be sung along to, and instrumentally there’s a lot to please the ear with intricate moments neatly contrasting huge basslines, and crescendos making the most of Automatic‘s punchy sound.
You can watch the video for Automatic below.