Don Broco

Automatic

Written by: TL on 23/08/2015 16:41:25

The cheeky Bedford boys in Don Broco have been an up and coming band in England for a while now. Their debut full-length "Priorities" from 2012 charmed many with its mix of funky, modern hard-rock and cheeky boyband stylings, setting expectations high for the follow-up "Automatic", which finally came out earlier this month. And judging already from the cover art, it's clear that Broco are pushing their pretty-boy image into even more exaggerated territory, and indeed, already with the opening duo of "Superlove" and "Automatic", you sense that the band has made a big, flashy, pop-rock record for both better and worse.

It is instantly evident that "Automatic" has catchy songs. Arguably it is in fact jam-packed with them, as the vocal hooks that make up the choruses on both "Superlove" and "Automatic" are easy for anyone to pick up and go around humming for days to come. Where the choruses on "Priorities" were often somewhat quirky and surprising in form, the ones on the new record are as radio-ready as they come. And fair enough, "Automatic" does very well in this aspect, however, it does not really do a whole lot else, and that's an issue.

On "Priorities" many of the songs stood apart with their own little quirks, and more of them had noticeable guitar signatures to thrive by as well. In comparison "Automatic" feels like entirely too smooth a listen. The guitar work on here feels like generic chiming with no further purpose than to fill out the space between the vocal melodies, and the rhythms, although still definitely funky, play out in the background in sort of a tame way. Similarly, in the lyrical department it feels like Don Broco stopped trying. The track "Fire" for instance, is flat out annoying to hear from this band, as its brain-dead chorus sounds like exactly the kind of thing that bands like Blitz Kids and Kids In Glass Houses have already failed to break through to the mainstream with. Meanwhile the chilled out "Nerve" heads into such a high strung falsetto territory in its chorus that you wonder if the band has any hope of being able to even sing it convincingly live.

As the record rolls on, it is sort of profound how easily accessible and catchy it manages to be while feeling completely homogenous, and as a result, unexciting. It's like it's almost intentionally build to catch your ear on casual spins and then let you down completely as soon as you sit down and pay attention to it. It's partly because the singing of frontman Rob Damiani and drummer Matt Donnelly, in particular, sounds like they've all of a sudden started taking themselves more seriously, which does not match well with the relatively shallow things they sing about. More importantly however, it is because you don't have to look any further than to the singles that were put out in the build-up to the album, "Money Power Fame" and "You Wanna Know", to find a couple of songs that are more powerful and have stronger identities from the very first beats. And for some reasons these are only included on the deluxe edition of "Automatic" as if they were "too wild" to fit in with the album's primarily over-polished main packaging.

It's a disappointing yet clear verdict for Don Broco's intended "big break" record then: If you want yourself some infectious melodies coupled with funky grooves and a cheeky attitude, then the group delivers entirely as expected. But if you expected some power and maybe some ear-popping details worth raising an eyebrow and coming back later for, then these regrettably seem to have been filtered out, in order to make the most easily digestible pop-rock record possible. And while obvious choruses can work just fine, if the listener has the songs figured out entirely before they're halfway through, then frankly listening gets boring a bit too soon.

Download: Automatic, What You Do To Me
For The Fans Of: Kids In Glass Houses, Blitz Kids, Lower Than Atlantis
Listen: facebook.com/donbroco

Release date 07.08.2015
Search & Destroy / Sony Epic

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