(Artwork care of Karen Ramsay (www.karenramsay.com), profile photo care of brianlackeyphotography.com)

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

CD review - Turin Brakes, Outbursts (2010)

The sound is like a polished stone or a bit of sea glass...or maybe the lucky coin you've carried for years. The smooth retro touches pull up a diverse set of references: Fleetwood Mac, U2, and Bread. The Turin Brakes take these sounds and weave them into a sort of dreamy trap. Outbursts is a subtle album, revealing more on each listen and rising above the simple folky first impression.

The first song hits all of these points. Sea Change starts with a folky set of guitars, but then quickly takes on a Rumours-era Fleetwood Mac sound, especially the vocals. Details keep drifting in, like background vocals and layers of percussion. It builds to an epic groove that stays just this side of progressive rock.

The swirling guitars and driving bass of Apocolips (free download here) reminds me of Radio Birdman's Man With Golden Helmet. The bass syncopation is hypnotic but it's tamed by the dreamy, distant vocals. Once again, the little details, like the suggestive keyboard nuances, come out on repeated listening.

The one song that I'm conflicted on is Will Power. This is almost a cover of U2's With Or Without You. Maybe it's more of a tribute, conscious or not. This is a package deal: the vocal, the melody, and the arrangement. On first listen, I was put off by how derivative it sounded. Eventually, though, the flow overcame my reservations. The song intricately builds into a compelling piece. Then, it resets to the beginning, to relieve the tension. The lyrics are loosely sung, but they're powerful.
You are turning from a whisper into a scream
Don't fall upon deaf ears
The short bridge features a lacy bit of twinned guitars.

Some things are an acquired taste, because they challenge the novice. Outbursts is more likely to be dismissed as simplistic, but give it a couple of listens and the subtleties will shine through. The perfect companion for this album is a fine glass of Kölsch (from Früh if you're actually in Köln).


  1. Nice to see them getting praised for subtlety rather than slammed for it!

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  3. I deleted a comment that posted a link to download this album. If the person really has the right to share Turin Brakes music for free, they should contact me via email to restore the link. I don't want to rip off the band.

    Thanks for understanding.

  4. I saw them play in Joes Pub Nyc on the weekend it was an acoutic set and they played Paper Heart and Sea Change both sounded Amazing. In fact the whole set was fantastic forgot how much i liked them.