At some point last week, in that bastion of quality exposition that is The Metro newspaper, I read a very short review of Touchdown within the preview of Brakes’ gig at the Ruby Lounge. Setting aside the reviewer’s implausible comparison of the Brighton four-piece with Snow Patrol (yes, really), they warned readers that the new album did not represent a ‘change in direction’.
The idea of Brakes changing direction brings to mind some bizarre scenes and scenarios. I’ve settled on the image of the band stood at some rural and isolated cross-roads, probably on the Sussex Downs, with a signpost (made of rusting iron and driftwood) with at least three prongs: the first saying ‘Riffs n’ hooks’; the second, ‘Lowdown Hoedown’; and the third, ‘Bittersweet Brooding’. Gazing up at the sign, and wondering which road to go in order to enact a “change in direction” the boys stand bewildered and confused. They rightfully do nothing and thus in some way or other The Metro reviewer might have been right. However, they were also very wrong – Brakes never had a direction in the first place and thus can’t change from one. They’re quite happy with their position at this imaginary meeting place of directions without having to travel forth down one or the other. And I’m happy with that too.
Touchdown thus lands at this wonderful place. We get the riffs and beauty-of-this-world hooks of ‘Don’t Take Me To Space (Man)’ and a sense of ephemeral happiness in ‘Hey, Hey’, along with the driving harmonies of opener ‘Two Shocks’ and ‘Ancient Mysteries’. Elsewhere, the noisier ‘Red Rag’ or the Lemonheads sounding ‘Do You Feel The Same?’ are accompanied by the weird desires of ‘Crush on You’, the brooding/building ‘Oh! Forever’ (a fine set ender earlier in the week), the sweet melancholy of ‘Leaving England’, and the upbeat nods to Nashville of ‘Eternal Return’ and ‘Worry About It Later’.
No track exceeds just over four minutes, unless you count ‘Leaving England’ which seems to have a secret track tagged on the end and there’s nothing of the brevity of ‘Comma Comma Comma Full Stop’ here. Plus, showing my age and disposition, compared to most bands-of-the-mo, Brakes know how to build and pace an album – which is very welcome (bah, gah, humbug, et al.)
Only two tracks. Move along now. No Bays of Pirates here. Go this way and buy it.