Unplug The Jukebox – Review of ‘Prototypes::Cause+Effect’ EP – 05/2011

“Last year the South Coast’s undisputed kings of alternative rock Broken Linksreleased their second EP”The Fine Line Between Choice/Decay” which was easily one of the most exhilarating listens of 2010, and any other year come to think of it.

So it is perhaps understandable that I was extremely excited and optimistic when it came to treating my ears to their third effort – “Prototypes::Cause + Effect” – for the first time.

Kicking off with the lead single from the EP – “Electrik” – we are eased into “Prototype…” with a sea of synths which briefly makes you think that we could be in for a slightly lighter and more poppier sound than the intense onslaught that the band have unleashed on their previous EPs.  However, this is not the case and before long we are in familiar territory.  The fuzzy bass, soaring vocals, an epic chorus, stinging guitar solos and intensity by the shedload all come together to make the type of anthem that we’ve come to expect from the trio.

“We’re All Paranoid” carries on from what “Electrik” perhaps promised to be.  It is more commercial and is arguably the most radio friendly moment on the EP.  Not that it turns its back on all the things that make Broken Links such a phenomenal band.  Oh no.  The climax to this song is an adrenaline rush, building slowly to a crashing crescendo.

What comes next is argubly the strangest – certainly the bravest – move of the EP?  Atmospheric and eerie instrumental “A Memory Of Home” slows things right down just as we’re getting going.  It seems a little bit out of place upon first listen.  As a track itself, it is fine and works well.  Yet within a five track EP, it seems a wee bit of a luxury.

“The Fine Line….” ended with another instrumental track – “In Your Headlight” -and this worked really well.  Perhaps “A Memory Of Home” would have worked better as the closer to “Prototype…”?

Next is “Cherno” which lacks the punch of other Broken Links tracks.  Maybe – like the majority of Broken Links tracks – it will need a few listens before doing itself justice?

Thankfully the band save the very best for last.  “Substitute Yourself” is eight minutes of epic, alternative rock of the darkest kind.  It is an absolute treat and the sound of a band at the peak of their powers.  Introducing itself with 1980s gothic synths and drum machines, Mark Lawrence’s solemn and understated vocals bring the song subtly.   It builds and builds from being relatively stark (by Broken Links’ standards!) into a wall of furious guitars and echoey vocals.

The song’s climax is fantastic.  Dramatic strings at to the effect perfectly and we’ve gone from a weary, understated start to a full on, angry yet defiant finish.  If it isn’t their best, this is definitely one of Broken Links’ best moments yet.

Given that their first two EPs along with their live performances are of such a high standard, it is possible that Broken Links could have become victims of their own brilliance here.  I could easily have been disappointed with “Prototypes…”.  Far from it.  Much like “Resisting Movement & The Almost Advisory” and “The Fine Line….”, this third EP from the band will  get better with each listen.  It is reassuring to know that the band’s quality control remains so high and they have yet more great material to add to their already impressive live shows.

A great band just got greater….”

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