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July 13, 2024

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Turin Breaks
Ether Song (Astralwerks)

By: James Chadwick

When Turin Breaks released their debut, the Optimist L.P, they were accused of single-handily starting the "new acoustic movement", yet after much criticizing about being boring in their "sitting down gigs" the breaks have returned with a second album, determined to prove themselves. However, when Turin Breaks released "Ether Song" it was clear that they had compromised their sound to try and be cool. The album has a promising start, the Massive Attack-esque drum beat at the start of "The Blue Hour" immediately grabs your attention, Turin Breaks are obviously a band of talent, however, when the acoustic guitars come in, the song just becomes busy. Olly Knights' Jeff Buckley styled vocal soars over the track but fails to save it from having no real direction. "The Blue Hour" is followed by "Average Man", which redeems the albums lack of direction immediately, it is cool and plays on the bands strengths, Gale Paridjanian's slide/lead guitar and Olly Knight's frenzied rhythm guitar, until the chorus which defies the convention by actually being quieter and thinner than the rest of the song, the harmonies are perfect and the lyrics down to earth, progressing naturally from The Optimist LP rather than trying to force evolution, in a similar way, "Long Distance", progresses forwards and gives Turin Breaks a new sound without compromising the music. "Falling Down" however, is similar to the albums first song, it tries to be clever, by playing a reversed piano in the background but it ends up making the song sound too busy, even without this, the song doesn't really carry much weight. "Stone Throw" takes its sound directly from Knocking on heavens door, it is care free but unoriginal, the lyrics also do not compliment the song very well, "Lets go sailing again" and the obvious effort to toughen up their image, "your love was a fucking game" still, the song is by no means a bad song, but it sounds a little to forced to be true. The only solely electric track on the album, "Little Brother", is actually surpassingly good, if not just a little raucous. The first single from the album, "Pain Killer" is a shameless attempt to penetrate the pop market, it fails to keep the trademark Breaks sound and has little substance, however, The Ether Song's closing track, "Rain City" is beautiful, it manages to use the electronic side of the band to good effect where it has failed many time before on the album. No drums feature on this track, they don't need to, it is a peaceful track of shear bliss which leaves the listener wondering what they will have in store next, it is totally evident from this album that Turin Breaks are amazingly talented, however some of the attempt to try and move on from their last album have left the band in a hole that they could have easily avoided. Ether Song is a great album in places, but fails to hit the point in others, its title track (hidden after "Rain City") sums up the album, brilliantly against the grain and different yet lacking direction, yet it still manages to be beautiful. It seems that Turin Breaks operate best as they did on the Optimist LP, they will just have to put up with being labeled as "coffee table music", because how ever boring it may sound to them, people want to hear coffee table music every once in a while, and nobody does it like Turin Breaks. I'll give it a B-.
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