The last few years may have driven Don Broco close to breaking point, but their dedication and persistence through those tough times seems to have paid off in abundance with the resulting new album, Technology.
The new release offers a darker take on the world than their previous albums. However; it is a joyful surprise, as the band give us a relevant and thought-provoking album; casting a spotlight on many modern social issues, ranging from politics, to depression, to the overuse of technology in everyday life.
Most fans will have heard the first five tracks from the album as they have all been released as singles; but this doesn’t decrease the impact upon first listen. Title track Technology packs a punch with an electronic flavoured tribal drum intro that kicks into a hefty stadium pleaser, packed full of heavy guitar riffs. While Technology looks at the implications of over sharing on social media and technological distraction from ‘real’ life, funk driven track Stay Ignorant seems wish back to simpler times, away from modern distractions.
T-Shirt Song has a bouncy, upbeat vibe that is not too dissimilar to some of the band’s older material, and is interlaced with victorious horns. However, this is perhaps one of the most powerful tracks on the album, based on a tough time in front man Rob Damiani’s life and his realisation that the grass is greener if you are able to get through it all. The tough times with the band are also focused on in Everybody, later on the album.
Drummer Matt has always done backing vocals, and this time around he was given a turn up front during indie-infused Come Out To LA, which adds yet another new level to the multi-talented musicians. The sarcastic track is a scathing look at the entertainment industry’s obsession with the ‘fake’ bubble of La-La Land. The ‘fake’ theme also continues in Pretty, which looks at people who are beautiful on the outside, but ugly deep down inside. Pretty is a wonderful cocktail of music influences, combining N*E*R*D like grooves with electronic rock to absolute precision.
Complex human relationships are examined within two of the strongest tracks on the album, The Blues and Tightrope; with Tightrope focusing on friends and family cutting you out of their lives at difficult times, and The Blues focusing on supporting friends through depression. Both songs showcase a different side to Rob’s vocals, as the smooth bass tones that we are usually treated to are switched to falsetto effortlessly. This works perfectly by contrasting against the heavier rock bass and guitar in The Blues. Tightrope also offers one of my favourite moments in the entire album, when there is a beautiful calm breakdown full of twinkling guitar work and weaving vocals between Rob and Matt, that builds to a gargantuan crescendo.
“More Cowbell!” demanded Christopher Walken’s character in the famous Saturday Night Live sketch, and this seems to be the advice that Don Broco have literally taken on board for Greatness. The song is heavily 80s influenced, and with groovy bass lines, electronic beats and yells of ‘Ow’ throughout, it is like some kind of bizarrely awesome mash up of the Nightrider theme tune and Bad by Michael Jackson. It is a song about trying to be great at what you do in your own original way, and the band have certainly done that.
This is followed by Porkies, which has a great concept behind it, concentrating on fake news and rumours; but is musically the weakest song on the album. It begins promising by bursting into a powerful & heavy chorus, but as it hits the first verse we are greeted with some awful auto-tuned vocals for the first few lines, which just doesn’t sound right. From that point, the song just ebbs along at one pace and there aren’t really any high points. Luckily, Got To Be You, the U2-inspired tune that follows; is beautiful and made me feel much better.
If you weren’t already suspicious about technology knowing too much about human-kind, then this conspiracy is only widened in Good Listener, which is all about mobile phones listening even when you aren’t using them. Have you ever wondered how the internet on your phone tailors advertisements to be relevant to your interests even if you haven’t searched for it?… Well this is all about that. The song has a slightly oriental vibe to it, which was perhaps influenced by Don Broco’s adventures to Japan last year, which is similarly where the title for next track ¥ comes from.
Another strong track is the super grungy Something To Drink; which is where the band could have wrapped up the album, brooding about needing a drink after a rubbish day. (Most people can relate to that in some form; yes?…) However, we are instead given two more songs to close the album, Blood In The Water and Potty Mouth. Although Blood In The Water isn’t anything particularly special, Potty Mouth is actually rather good and makes fun of censorship in the music industry. There is a lot of cursing, so might not be the best for those who are overly sensitive; but it is perfectly apt considering the subject matter.
In the past Don Broco may have been seen as the fun band who like to make audiences dance and laugh, but Technology is very much a sign that the Bedford lads have grown up and are looking at the world with their eyes wide open. Overall, a solid third release, which may well be in the running for one of the best British rock albums of this year.