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Review: Don Broco – Priorities [Album]

Review: Don Broco – Priorities [Album]

Search and Destroy // “The year of the ‘Broco is upon us; equal measures of personality, muscle and fun that matches their amazing presence on stage”

Review   4730 Views
Last Edited by: Candi H August 17th, 2012.

British. Never before has the word meant so much in recent times. Not only are our athletes doing us proud out there in the hugely-pressurised world of competitive sport, but our bands and musicians are also proving to be outright winners. The UK rock scene, these past few years in particular, has seen such a growth in talent that the vast ocean that surrounds this fair isle will surely not be enough to contain them much longer.

One such musical force that is primed to break free this year is Bedford born-and-bred, Don Broco. In 2008, the quartet who met at school, went on the road as tour supports for many UK bands and played countless festivals through ’09 and ’10. Their ballsy yet fun alternative-rock and animated live performances (some of which managing to outshine headliners) paired with their laddish charm saw their fanbase swell thick and fast. And with the release of a widely-praised mini-album entitled Big Fat Smile in 2011, frontman Rob Damiani, drummer/backing vocalist Matt Donnelly, guitarist Simon Delaney and bassist Tom Doyle (who replaced Luke Raynor at the beginning of the year) found themselves with a trajectory that was set in one direction and one direction only.

Don Broco - From L to R: Matt, Simon, Rob and Tom

Their appeal spread like wild-fire and soon enough caught not only my eye, but the attention of Search and Destroy Records; a new label created by giants, Sony Music and rock music cultivators, Raw Power Management this year. The news of a record deal was swiftly followed with the release of a new single and the hugely-anticipated announcement of a full-length album of the same name, Priorities due out August 13th.

Thus the year of the ‘Broco is upon us. Getting down to business, said first single opens the eleven-track LP and quite rightly so as it’s quite simply a belter; sky-scraper sized choruses, dangerously-contagious riffs and heaps of cocky swagger that make Danny Dyer look like Daniel Radcliffe. With Rob's lyrics focused on that age old spat of hoe’s over bro’s, the band are cautioning said mate who’d rather have it off with the missus – “’s best you mend your ways or you’ll end up having no friends left that you can bail on” and taking the opportunity to humiliate the traitor in the process – “'Miss you pumpkin, I miss you babe' Wish you could hear what you’re saying”. All whilst whipping out clever and progressive guitar and bass licks on top of a slick and stylish melody that’s moreish.

WATCH // 'Priorities'

Next single, ‘Actors’ which despite being plonked at the polar opposite end of the album, is another hugely-confident tune and unquestionably a favourite for me. Right from the word go the proverbial shit hits the fan as explosive guitars and pummelling drums roar into action. Rob follows suit, firing lines like bullets – the target? – It’s not hard to guess: “Shadow every single move; take your cue, laugh when the boss laughs. All the actors, all the actors learnt lines. God knows they try!” he slyly and succinctly observes as drummer Matt joins the rant with small but significant vocal parts. Talking of which, the sticksman has proved himself to be an integral part of the ‘Broco sound over the years; his strong higher-range harmonies consistently proving to be a great contrast with the frontman’s deep and distinct tone.

A better and more dominant example would be on the utterly brilliant midway weapon, ‘Fancy Dress’ which had fans in a tizzy when it was teased recently. It shrewdly and creatively flits between a slow groove, indie-rock patter and a full-on arena-sized rock battering; evidence of the multitude of musical influences these guys have. Mr Damiani’s Britpop/mod revival inspired vocals for one aren’t something the next generation will be familiar with, so right now it’s a fresh sound on fresh ears.

WATCH // 'Actors'

Indeed they’re not quite alternative-rock, pop-rock or post-hardcore, but something in-between. Don Broco’s mix of styles or Bro-core if you will, sets them apart from other bands right now. Delving into the rest of the album sees the lads experiment and stretch their musical capabilities even more.

Hold On’ has their trademark bravado in a sexy groove aided by the lead singer’s charisma and frank lyrics about a close encounter of the female kind... “Talking saucy nonsense ‘till the end of time. And don’t we know if you said you knew a single truth about me you’d be lying. If we said we felt a real connection we’d be lying. Yes we can keep this bullshit up all night” he bluntly reveals.

Yeah Man’ is faster paced but softer on the approach; retaining the admirably honest outlook they have – “And we’ll never get fat ‘cause we jump around like prats getting drunk, getting away with it” is a particularly memorable line before the chorus gently sways with a brotherly camaraderie “I know that you are broke ‘cause I’m broke, let’s be broke together, whatcha say man?”.

Here's the Thing’ is laden with gorgeous bass lines that throb underneath glossy guitar notes; keeping the subtle groove stance from before. It does eventually develop into a more powerful character in the last minute as cymbals crash, distortion surfaces and both singers become more passionate in their delivery. I didn’t think much of this track at first, but it has a hidden depth – which is a cheesy statement at the best of times! – but it grew on me with multiple listens.

Whole Truth’ on the other hand is reminiscent of Big Fat Smile’s fun and vibrance; a bouncy tune with a get-out-into-the-sunshine vibe, much like ‘In My World’ which also radiates a positive glow and speaks of lasting friendships. It’s definitely something that fellow rising Brits Futures and Deaf Havana have found to be an essential tool in relating to, and appealing to their fans.

WATCH // 'Yeah Man' (Acoustic)

Talking of lasting friendships, hardcore ‘Broco fans will know of the bands’ ties to PROCEED. – an amazing progressive-rock band from Hertfordshire that despite an extended hiatus(?) have provided these guys with not only a Producer and a bassist, but an influence in their sound. It can especially be heard in their more mature moments; ‘Back in the Day’ for one sees nimble-fingered Simon effortlessly pull off a continuous single note guitar melody in the verses before Tom ably accompanies his mate with an equally impressive bassline. It erupts in the choruses but maintains a cool grown-up persona that really validates their growth as a band.

The transition from young guys writing chirpy rock tunes with a comical edge, to established and focused musicians couldn’t be more apparent on Priorities. Yeah, they’re still boys at heart who don’t take themselves seriously but what they’ve got here is focused, fresh and fizzing with an energy that I haven’t heard from a band in a while.

As quick as this thought passed my mind, the opening bars of ‘You Got it Girl’ were like a confirmation from a force above. It’s easily the album’s most ambitious track with flute, Asian-inspired percussion, piano and sumptuous vocal harmonies on top of really interesting rhythm changes. One particular breakdown midway through has a pulsing 80’s styled bassline that’s very Top Gun-esque...I know you’re thinking that I must have truly lost the plot or simply switched CD’s, but it’s one of those tracks that you just have to hear for yourselves! At just over three minutes in, it ruptures with a staggering power into familiar rock-song territory; Godzilla-sized riffs and intense drum-pounding that’ll give you goosebumps. If ever there was a song that said “watch this space”, then this would be it.

Last but not least to stick my teeth into is the dynamic and self-assured ‘Let's Go Back to School’ which unsurprisingly bubbles with youth and a get-up-and-go attitude. With a combination of acoustic and electric guitar, it’s a highly-likable tune with memories of a care-free time - “I used to get the highest marks, I used to be top of the class, I once believed I’d rule the whole world”.

Priorities, to summarise, is one of the year’s most enjoyable rock releases with equal measures of personality, muscle and fun that matches their amazing presence on stage. Despite some people thinking they’re just having a laugh or are a bit of a joke, with every listen of this LP you’ll hear more technique, thought and skill that proves that as well as being funny, they’re an intelligent and credible band who have worked their asses off to get noticed.

There was a time when my ‘Top Ten Bands’ list contained maybe one or two Brits, at most. Yet now I can gladly reel off a list as long as my arm which I can, with pleasure, add Don Broco to this year. Unlike our athletes, they aren’t quite making history but they’re certainly going for gold and in the process, making a permanent mark on the rock scene. Bro-core has arrived.

Priorities is out Monday 13th August

Worth Listening To...
  • Priorities
  • Fancy Dress
  • Actors
  • Here's The Thing
  • You Got It Girl

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