Broken Beak do what they do incredibly well.
Label: Near Mint Records
Released: 1st July 2016
Anyone who’s ever tried to assemble a flatpack wardrobe from Ikea will tell you that some things just work better when you get your mates involved, and this is certainly true of Beau Brynes’ solo-project-turned-full-band, Broken Beak. Debut album ‘Old Evil’ was an understated acoustic offering, and while it showcased Brynes’ ability as a songwriter, the addition of Brendan Lukens (of Modern Baseball fame), Steady Hands guitarist Evan Moorehead, and drummer Jeff Malt (origin unknown – sorry Jeff), has created a fuller, more mature sound on second full-length release, ‘Some Nerve’.
While the timid refrain which introduces opening track ‘Matches’ might initially suggest a continuation of the ‘Old Evil’ style, this is quickly replaced by a wall of fuzzy guitar and steady pace-setting drums. The frequent swell and drop of the instrumentation is a natural accompaniment to Brynes’ brooding songwriting style, creating extra depth that would have been lacking in another solely acoustic record.
This frequent change of pace and dynamic is a prevalent force throughout the album. The steady hum of ‘Matches’ is smoothly supplanted by the more punkish tones of ‘Cut Out’ and ‘Humble’ – presumably the influence of bringing Lukens on board. However, any suggestion that Broken Beak is simply a Modern Baseball side-project would be unfair and reductive: ‘Some Nerve’ covers a lot of ground, veering between genres with ease. Tracks such as ‘Saints’ and ‘Echo’ have an off-kilter indie feel reminiscent of Modest Mouse, while ‘Stable’ is a hazy, fuzzy tribute to 90s alternative that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Pity Sex record. Brynes’ vocal style swerves from quavering and hesitant to unreserved, cracking under the strain; this, coupled with the often-discordant sound effects scattered throughout the record, draws an obvious comparison to a ‘Fevers and Mirrors’-era Bright Eyes.
And this has in fact worked to the band’s credit rather than to their detriment: despite the multitude of differing present, the record doesn’t feel slapdash or disjointed. Brynes and co. have managed to put together an album that flows organically, and the influence of other bands or genres lend the record a comfortable, familiar feel without seeming half-hearted or derivative. ‘Some Nerve’ doesn’t break any new ground, but for a relatively new band Broken Beak do what they do incredibly well, with an ease that would put bands many years their senior to shame. Jade Curson