As its inclusion in this month’s five must hear releases suggests we were pretty excited about finally hearing a new full length from Don Broco. From the singles they’d released in the run up to ’Automatic’ dropping it was clear Broco have been busy experimenting in the studio, but how would the masters of pop-rock lad style fair in their efforts to re-invent themselves for that always tricky second album? Let’s find out.
First track ’Superlove’ sets the tone for the rest of the record perfectly, resonating with eighties vibes and featuring a plethora of suitably vintage sounding guitars, keys and synths jostling for attention with the first of many cracking outings on the bass for Tom Doyle. The more pop-orientated sound also helping to highlight the power and confidence of Rob Damiani’s vocals.
Title track and first single ’Automatic’ keeps things rolling in much the same vein, only with one of the most outrageously catchy hooks the band have ever written. The song also sees touches subtlety and depth added to Broco’s new rock meets vintage pop sound with good use of swirling synth sections and multiple guitar tracks.
This development continues on ’What You Do To Me which builds from a gorgeous Spanish guitar riff and a distinctly R’n’B pop air into a fully rounded mid-tempo pop-rock monster chorus. One complete with another consciousness bothering hook and excellent duelling vocals between Damiani and Doyle.
’Fire’ harks back to Broco’s more established pop-rock sound but with riffs that have a little more urgency and bite to them than anything on Priorities and some big ethereal gang harmonies thrown into the mix.
We get a rather titanic pop tune next in the shape of ‘Nerve’, basically imagine a Coldplay type approach without being bland and dull and with more obvious rock sensibilities. Both the group harmonies and the lead vocal from Damiani are one again top notch. ’Let You Get Away blends the old and new Broco sounds to great effect and the energetic chorus should get plenty of fists and bodies bouncing live.
Things take an unexpectedly classic rock turn on ’I Got Sick which swaggers into life with some seriously big riffs, which also combine with pounding drums to create an intense driving chorus before Si Delaney breaks out some cracking guitar solo work. Something he also reprises on ’Keep On Pushing a number that also sees virtuoso effects laden bass lines from Doyle.
’Tough On You’ is a solid if not hugely memorable effort with the lads having a stab at the slow floaty synth verse fast rockier chorus blueprint. That just leaves ’Further’ to bring things to a theatrical and multi-layered close. A huge strings backed chorus features more excellent duel vocals that builds effortlessly out of a bass and synth driven verse. This is easily the most ambitious and emotionally hard hitting track Broco have produced to date, and they nail it with aplomb.
There is very much a sense that this is the type of record Don Broco were always destined to make given their long standing public admiration for pop and R’n’B. That they were able to it to such a well-rounded and cohesive effect is mighty impressive. Too often band’s aim too high on their sophomore album; changing it too much about their sound and making it barely recognisable from what made them successful in the first place. Here Broco have taken great strides forward with their sonic development adding plenty of class, sophistication and much needed variety to the mix, but at the heart of it all is still that same laddish humour and outlook and the same eye for writing properly killer choruses and hooks. Albums released in the summer are all too often labelled as sure fire soundtracks of the summer, ’Automatic’ however is the perfect soundtrack to any and every party for the rest of the year and beyond.
‘Automatic’ by Don Broco is out now on Search & Destroy/Sony Epic.
Words by Dane Wright (@MrDaneWright)