“Southampton-based alternative rock act Broken Links originally take inspiration from Joy Division/Depeche Mode/Nine Inch Nails/Manic Street Preachers among others. However, they have developed their sound over time and now it’s something that’s unique to them. Made up of Mark Lawrence (vocals/guitar), Lewis Betteridge (bass) and Phil Boulter (drums) Broken Links have previously supported the likes of The Boxer Rebellion, InMe and The Xcerts. At the moment they are currently on a small tour in the UK. Disasters: Ways To Leave a Scene is Broken Links’ debut album and at 14 tracks long it shows they’re brimming with enthusiasm.
Opening track ‘Electrik’ showcases just how powerful Broken Links’ energy is as it rockets straight into a guitar driven melody with a pulsing bass line. Strong vocals fill the track and the chorus even features impressive falsetto. As first tracks go, ‘Electrik’ certainly sets up the album to be something really special. Not many bands can say their intro is a hit, but Broken Links’ have succeeded as ‘Electrik’ is one of the most memorable tracks from Disasters… and carries a fantastic hook. The electro influences are very apparent here as spiky electronics are used to give the track a sense of urgency which works very well. ‘Within Isolation’ is another strong track, however, this bunching of great tracks at the start of the album means in the middle there is a definite lapse of originality. Despite ‘We’re All Paranoid’s intro sounding more like Motionless In White than Broken Links, this track is one that stands out due to its infectious chorus and the anthemic quality of the vocal hook.
While it’s clear what Broken Links are trying to achieve with ‘Choice/Decay’ Part I & II it’s not clear if it works or not. The instrumental side (Part I) builds tension but only for Part II to downplay that and come forth with a pretty standard rock song. From track 7 (‘Shelter Your Loss’) through to ending track 14 Broken Links show nothing but dullness. ‘What Are You Addicted To?’ is the only notable exception but without wanting to sound too harsh, it just sound likes like a recycled version of any track from the first half of the album.
Most songs from Disasters… just go on far too long with many around the 5 minute mark. The thing is, they simply don’t need to be so long and the truth is they’d be much more appreciated if they were shorter. This way they’d keep the listener’s interest and stop the already mammoth 14 tracks from dragging. A perfect example of this is the incessantly boring 3 minute instrumental that is ‘A Memory of Home’ as well as the dull 8 minute closer ‘Substitute Yourself’.
Unfortunately as excited as I was about the start of this album, it just doesn’t live up to the bar that ‘Electrik’ set. It’s with regret that Disasters: Ways To Leave a Scene can be known as no more than a 3/5 due to the lack of substance in the majority of the album.
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