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Brakes - The Beatific Visions

Brakes, The Beatific Visions

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

JUST to remind people, Brakes are an indie super-group of sorts comprised of Eamon from British Sea Power, Mark from Tenderfoot and Tom and Alex from Electric Soft Parade.

They specialise in delivering catchy blasts of dizzy rock-pop that could easily filter over into the dark scene.

The Beatific Visions is their follow-up to Give Blood and comprises 11 tracks of sometimes dizzying intensity, rattled out in a spritely 28 minutes.

Rather like Give Blood, it’s a bold, sometimes brilliant and occasionally ramshackle experience that mostly impresses.

Kicking off with the ultra-sharp guitar pop of Hold Me In The River, the album succeeds in grabbing your attention from the outset. The central riff, in particular, arrives like a lightning bolt to disrupt the flow of the otherwise driving guitars, while the vocals are edgy in a punky sort of way. It’s a firecracker of a start and one that – released on the day after November 5 – sets things in motion with a bang.

Margherita follows along in similarly effervescent fashion, the rapid strumming and stop-start opening setting things up for a rapid assault on your senses. Vocally, it’s really off-kilter.

But then the album changes pace, with the country-influenced indie rock of If I Should Die Tonight, something of a ballad. It evokes fond memories of both Gomez and The Bees, while maintaining its own sense of spiky enthusiasm.

There’s a hint of ’60s psychedelia surrounding the similarly impressive Mobile Communication which, once again, proves just how effective Brakes can be when reigning it in. The chorus is a real charmer.

The yelp-heavy Spring Chicken could be said to be the Brakes’ equivalent of The Bees’ Chicken Payback, kicking off with a “come on over and do the twist” lyric, before meshing livewire, retro guitars with an infectious sense of energy.

From then on in, it’s a similarly brash mix of fast and slow – some of it edgy and contemporary in a punk-pop kind of way, others slower and more old-school in design.

The political Porcupine Or Pineapple? is a little too heady for its own good, blasting out provocative statements left, right and centre, without really making much sense.

While the tender Isabel, in contrast, provides a terrific moment of respite that’s both achingly romantic and wholly inspired.

Final track No Return completes things in just as impressive fashion, leaving you with a keen sense of admiration for what you’ve just heard.

The best thing that can be said about The Beatific Visions, however, is that you’ll be desperate to hear it all over again almost as soon as it’s finished. It’s a blast that demands repeated listens, especially in light of his trim running time.

Track listing:

  1. Hold Me In The River
  2. Margherita
  3. If I Should Die Tonight
  4. Mobile Communication
  5. Spring Chicken
  6. Isabel
  7. Beatific Visions
  8. Porcupine or Pineapple?
  9. Cease and Desist
  10. On Your Side
  11. No Return