Follow Us on Twitter

Turin Brakes - Dark On Fire

Turin Brakes, Dark On Fire

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3.5 out of 5

IT’S been a little while since we’ve heard anything from Turin Brakes duo Olly Knights and Gale Paridjanian but the break appears to have given them a new lease of life.

Dark On Fire is arguably their most upbeat offering yet, boosted by some electric guitars and a darker, grittier energy in places.

Fans anticipating a new collection of songs in the same vein as breakthrough hits Underdog (Save Me), Feeling Oblivion and 5 Mile (These Are The Days) may be surprised by the sudden change of pace. But pleasantly so.

Dark On Fire follows an 18-month period that Knights and Paridjanian spent writing, then road-testing new material, resulting in them entering the studio in Spring 2007 to work with highly respected producer Ethan Johns (Kings of Leon, Ray LaMontagne and Ryan Adams, amongst others).

Recording for the first time with their on-the-road band, the duo have subsequently captured the tensile beauty that has always run like a thread of steel through their songs – but added some steel.

Hence, songs like album opener Last Chance find Knights on terrific form vocally, while the guitars build from uptempo acoustic to thrilling electric and fade in and out to enthralling, busy effect. Some fine but understated piano chords add to the fuller sound of the songwriting.

Ghost, meanwhile, contains another punchy guitar riff and some strong lyrics that find Knights lamenting “you are the ghost that I miss the most”. The hammond organ undercutting proceedings even lends the song a ’70s vibe that’s equally uplifting.

Something In My Eye slows things down to more familiar, chilled out territory and washes over you in suitably soothing fasion, even provoking comparions with the assured vocal style of Crowded House and the telling guitar melodies of Coldplay.

But Stalker, the new single, pumps things up once more by merging darker lyrics with some exciting electric guitar work that serves to showcase the album at its finest (“I will destroy all of the friends that you made”).

Things revert back to the band’s folky roots on the slower Other Side, which adds some melancholy strings to heighten the atmosphere created by Knights mournful vocals, and Dark On Fire contains a terrifically moody chorus and some beguiling cello.

Real Life returns the rockier vibe just in the nick of time and serves to underline the more diverse nature of the songwriting, while For The Fire grows on you with each listen without ever really registering that strongly.

But there’s a keen sense of fun surrounding the organs and shimmering melodies of Timewaster, while Bye Pod trades well on a nice balance between the piano and the mandolin. It’s a slower, more sensitive offering that marks the album at its most tender and charming (“won’t you come and meet me, I’ll take you out for breakfast, we’ll be happy to be clinging on together evermore”).

The only slight disappointment is that final tracks Here Comes The Moon and New Star end things on a quieter, folkier note that’s more indicative of their early material than the new sound of the album. It deprives Dark On Fire of the really big finish it deserves. But it’s a small price to pay for a comeback album that mostly delivers the goods in spades.

Download picks: Last Chance, Ghost, Stalker, Dark On Fire, Timewaster, Bye Pod.

Track listing:

  1. Last Chance
  2. Ghost
  3. Something In My Eye
  4. Stalker
  5. Other Side
  6. Dark On Fire
  7. Real Life
  8. For The Fire
  9. Timewaster
  10. Bye Pod
  11. Here Comes The Moon
  12. New Star

  1. I am a long time ‘Brakes’ fan. I have even seen them live at Oxford Brookes University. They are absolutely great. I love Dark on Fire. While I do feel that perhaps some of the rawness is missing from their more stripped down albums, I still think that Dark on Fire is superb. It still has that unmistakably ‘Brakes’ sound that to me makes them so unique. I do miss their raw guitar sounds a little. Overall I feel that for Turin Brakes less is more! However, all in all, another ‘Brakes’ masterpiece….. whatever reviews may say! If you need a score 10/10

    Richard C-P    Sep 18    #
  2. Great album and a good review here although I’d have given the album 4 stars!

    Kevin    Sep 20    #
  3. I agree a lot with the reviewer, the title track is an instant classic in my opinion and is head and neck above anything else on the album. ‘Stalker’ and the antipodean themed ‘Other Side’ follow closely behind as ‘Brakes classics, however the punchy 70’s felling ‘Ghost’ and ‘Real Life’ leave me reaching for the skip button, while the rest of the album is fine I do get the feeling of filler tracks.
    Still having said all that ‘Dark On Fire’ is well worth a dozen listens while driving in your car or commuting on the train before moving on to something else.

    stephen lappin    Sep 21    #
  4. As a fan from the beginning, awaiting each new release more impatiently than a child awaits Christmas, I have to say I’ve been dissapointed for the first time and am at odds with the main review above.
    Dark on Fire has another unique TB classic in the form of its title track, and a couple of the others, such as Last Chance, do get Olly’s goose-pimplingly phenomenal voice powering through. The rest have something missing (or have they gained something unwanted?) They are immediately forgettable.
    With a name like Dark on Fire, I was expecting something hauntingly beautiful like Ether Song, but much of the album has become too dad rocky electic guitar semi dullness. The sort of stuff an aging Mcartney might churn out.
    Despite the above, I can’t wait to see them live again next week in Bristol, but I’m already awaiting the next album in hope that a little more of the magic will return.

    Full marks for all previous albums, but only 6.5/10 for this one I’m afraid.

    Bob    Sep 22    #
  5. I’ve been a fan of TB for ages and initially this album was a bit of a disapointment. Although some of the songs let TB down, a few of the them are absolutely fantastic, particularily ‘bye pod’.

    Worth its price for the good songs but a bit of an anti-climax. I definately havn’t lost hope for the future, this is a long way from being a bad album. The ‘something out of nothing’ EP is pretty good too if you can get that.

    josh    Sep 25    #