British pop-rock outfit Don Broco have rode the crest of a huge wave on the back of 2012 debut record ‘Priorities’, gaining plenty of popularity and mainstream commercial success along the way. Main stage sets at Reading & Leeds Festival along with headlining the 2015 edition of the Kerrang! Tour, coupled with large BBC Radio 1 airtime, have truly propelled the band into the forefront of the alt rock scene.
Sophomore album, ‘Automatic’, looks set to capitalise on this progress by offering more of the same saccharine vocal melodies and low tempo, soft rock rhythm sections. Basically, if you’ve listened to Don Broco‘s debut record then you know what you’re gonna get here.
The record starts brightly with ‘Superlove’, showcasing a real funky edge reminiscent of Red Hot Chili Peppers with decent melodic key changes. What isn’t so great, however, is the Scissor Sister-esque style of the vocal delivery during the chorus. Very high-pitched, a touch whiney and really holding onto those pop sensibilities, vocalist Rob Damiani demonstrates a decent vocal style, but a style that may alienate the more rock-orientated listener.
‘What You Do To Me’ adds a lot more spice to the mix. The vocal arrangements throughout this track have angst and urgency to them, despite the overall pace being quite laborious. ‘Fire’ contains a chorus that is pure radio gold, and will certainly inspire a call and return approach from live audiences, whilst ‘Nerve’ increases the atmospheric allure of their sound and in turn produces a rather emotive experience.
The mid-section of the album is quite disappointing. There lacks anything worthwhile to cling onto, and the songs pass by one-by-one in a bit of a blur. One of the main weaknesses of Don Broco, even in this early stage of their careers, is the inability to really capture the listener’s imagination. Delivering a fairly standard alternative rock sound with no real progression within songs hampers the chance of fans of a heavier orientation to get excited by this album.
The record picks up slightly towards the end with ‘Tough On You’ containing a spoken word intro/verse section, but uplifts the tempo with a spritely chorus. If only this variation was utilised more on the rest of the record, this would be a much more palatable listening experience.
Early adopters of the band who have listened to their ‘Thug Workout’ EP will find little similarity here to the post-hardcore style of sound they originated with. What Don Broco have turned into is a very steady commercial artist with plenty of mainstream appeal, adopting a sound that may not appeal to the purist, but will certainly find a home in many alternative rock fans’ collections.
Written by Neil Criddle