Don Broco’s last release was in 2015 (‘Automatic’). Before the album dropped, they did a lot of touring (including but not limited to) supporting You Me At Six on their headlining tour in 2014. They were announced as the headliner of the Kerrang! tour of February 2015, where they toured with the then We Are The In Crowd, Beartooth and Bury Tomorrow. And in August of 2015, their last album dropped, Automatic. Let’s see how their newest addition to their discography fares.
The opening track is the album’s namesake, ‘Technology’. It’s a strong techno opener, and the drums give the song a slight tribal feel (something that quickly becomes a recurring musical theme in most of the songs on the album). It’s a sound that isn’t explored in depth however, as the guitars kick in we’re thrust into a post-hardcore/rock song with gravelly vocals. The song’s narrative explores our dependency on technology, and how we’re all connected to so many people that we can’t stand, and it’s this same dependency that’s making us miserable (‘I once had friends, but I can’t stand them now’). The bridge of the song offers a pleading tone (I’m not the only one left right?), and it resonates. Though we all complain about the world that we live in, this song explores the idea (or lack thereof) of people willing to make a change to their lifestyles. Despite the song’s message, it is anything but preachy, and it makes for a refreshing listen.
The next track, ‘Stay Ignorant’ seem to include guitars that have a faint Spanish like influence, with the vocals almost crossing over into rap. The guitars here are the leading instrument—lending for a loud, aggressive song. It’s commanding. The inclusion of so many sounds and influences make for a very jarring listening experience, but it’s not unpleasant. Though this song didn’t appeal to me as much as ‘Technology’, it’s still an interesting addition to the album. ‘T-Shirt Song’ is the only one, at least in the first half of the album, that can be definitely labelled as one inspired by mainstream pop (or at least only in the first half of the song). Each song explores at least three or four genres between verses, and it definitely keeps you on your toes. Each song on this record offers a catchy hook and chorus, making the tracks enjoyable—even if for me, the themes of the album don’t resonate as much as they perhaps could.
The synth inspired ‘Come Out To LA’ does pretty much what it says on the tin. It’s a song about, well, making it in LA, shaking hands with the right people, and if it all goes well—maybe even having some longevity, if you play your cards right. Again, the band comes back to the theme of dependency (And I can’t live without it no more’). A potentially harmful relationship between showbusiness and emotional wellbeing but being unable to let it go. Though lyrically, it’s one of the more poignant tracks, musically it didn’t appeal to me as much some of the tracks that preceded it.
‘Pretty’ is a blend of electro and alt rock. Certainly, one of the more heavier tracks on the album—definitely inspired by heavy metal. For me, this was one of the few songs where the mish-mash of genres didn’t work. The genre and sound hopping left the song sounding and feeling messy, cheesy and garbled—and it didn’t feel as though it brought anything when it came to the album’s narrative. Rather than feeling like a strong addition to what is forming into being a confident album, it feels like an intermission song. Listening to ‘The Blues’, you come to understand that one of the most prominent themes on the album is one of ‘fake happy’, or barely being able to keep yourself together, and the narrative of ‘The Blues’ itself is about being ignored by someone (‘You get around to it when you can’).
From ‘Pretty’ onwards, the album veers away from post-hardcore and alt rock, and into definite electro pop territory. ‘Tightrope’ is one of the most lyrically vivid songs (‘As I’m waiting to fall/with both feet in my mouth I hope’). A song all about keeping your opinions to yourself, or potentially being in a situation where you’re unable to express yourself, because it’s the safe option.
Skipping forward a song to ‘Greatness’; the opening of this track definitely reminds me of Queen’s ‘Another One Bites The Dust’. The song explores, well, wanting greatness; but achieving that through the means of immediate gratification, of wanting everything but not being willing to give something up in return. It is without a doubt my favourite track on the record. ‘Give me what I came for/Or give me nothing at all’.
The first half of the album was a ton of fun to listen to. The instrumentals and composition felt fresh and exciting—and as mentioned previously, with each shift of genre and sound, it made the songs feel truly original. Lyrically and thematically, the album is strong, exploring the idea of long lasting success and isolating yourself from things, perhaps for your own self-preservation. However, for me, the positives on this record started weaning a little thing from ‘Pretty’ onwards. The last handful of songs (‘Porkies’ down to the album’s last track ‘Potty Mouth’), felt a little bland and the themes of the album started to feel a little lost. Overall, an interesting listening experience but not one that I’m sure resonated with me.
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