Brakes - The Beatific Visions

The debut album from Brakes was one of the highlights of last year - rip roaring tails of drunken drug taking, dancing with gypsies and those annoying people at gigs who've seen every band... ever. Drenched in garage-punk edginess and recorded in five days completely live, it was full of energy, drive and plain good laughs that you could do nothing but enjoy. And this was all with a band just seen as a bit of something on the side for Eamon Hamilton, keyboardist in one of the south coasts finest, British Sea Power. However the success of Give Blood made Hamilton quit BSP and give Brakes a full shot, culminating in their second album The Beatific Visions, recorded in Nashville with a little more care and attention.

Clocking in at just under half and hour with only 11 songs, it's a shock and awe attack on your senses with nothing over 3 minutes (apart from the album closer) you're left shaking in your chair, one half relieved, one half depressed that such an amazing sonic event has finished.

Hold Me In The River sets the tone for the entire album, Hamilton's quirky vocals quivering as he spits out his lyrics, the music still full of that punk-rock energy but it's just that slightly more polished, the riffs are tight and the sound more focused and direct. It's not Give Blood Pt II but Give Blood grown up. That's not to say their sense of humour has disappeared with this new found maturity, Spring Chicken is a country-rock hoe-down and should see line-dancing rejuvenated in this country, doing the "spring chicken" will be the main event at this years office Christmas party. Then there's the minute thrash of Porcupine or Pineapple? which sounds like some twisted anti-War song with it's "Who won the war, who won the war, was it worth fighting for, what the fuck was it for?" with yells of "Ouch!" as if Eamon has just sat on one or the other...

But what makes Brakes such a great and exhilarating band is their switch between different music styles, whilst the silliness brings a smile to your face, their more tender tracks tug at your heart strings. If I Should Die Tonight is a beautiful love song with it's country-leanings and, although the subject of the song has been sung so many times before, "If I should die tonight, will you tell her that I loved her", it sounds so genuine and heartfelt. The closing track No Return is just stunning. A slow burning song about trying to forget about a relationship but events conspiring against you to remind you about it. It epitomises their new found maturity, the music not thrashing about but gently revolving around a simple organ and strings...

The only negative about this album is it's length, it's just all over too damn soon. These are all wonderfully realised songs, they're all miniature stories that, in equal measures, amuse, depress and reassure you - a mini-masterpiece.

Overall

9

out of 10

Last updated: 19/04/2018 03:58:12

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