Brakes: Hold Me in the River
Taken from their second album ‘The Beatific Visions’, 'Hold Me in the River' is the closestBrakes have yet come to a fully fledged song. Sure, the same frantic nervous vitriol is still present and the track is still driven by choreographed explosions of acoustic guitar, but the piece clocks in at 2 minutes and 3 seconds, which by Brakes' standards is a marathon. Yet, despite its length Brakes still have the same lurching drunk style; elegantly wasted as they stroll into your party with a hat full of ideas.
Brakes now have more confidence and a developing style. They are shaping punk-rock for the twenty first century; literary pop music filled with credibility and bite. Eamon Hamilton sings with knowing irony, gauging the contemporary frailty of popular music and injecting it with a shot of urgency and exuberance. Virtually no musical artifice comes between the singer and audience as Brakes crash through a minimalist sound to communicate the most universal of ideas. The content is also frighteningly relevant, as if they were talking about your most recent attempts to paint a provincial market town bright red. Hints of irony and self deprecation litter their style, as they cast a knowing eye over the crowd. It’s akin to the Streets or the Arctic Monkeys in their unique sense of satire, but without the self importance, cultural baggage and millions of column inches these artists have acquired.
A fellow critic suggested that he “wasn’t convinced” by Brakes, but then that’s not what they are aiming for. This is not a mighty artistic statement. How could it be at just two minutes long? So what if the style is lifted from Frank Black, or if over two albums Brakes have produced about 45 minutes of music. This is about blasting away nostalgia and pomp, about the democracy of punk music in sharing common experiences and firing some high quality chords in the process. 'Hold Me in the River' is a catalyst for an explosion and shows a hidden depth of intent which is mirrored in the Brakes work. A band on the rise.