Album Review: Broken Side Of Time by Alberta Cross
Very Good, Based on 5 Critics
New Musical Express (NME) - 80 Based on rating 4/5
Threatened by Courteeners fans, [b]Peter Andre[/b]-loving ladies pounding at our door after a bitchy review, and the arrival of the new [b]Mika[/b] record… NME has experienced all manner of terrifying stuff – so it takes a lot to make us jittery. But [a]Alberta Cross[/a] scare the hell out of us. In a good way. This long-awaited debut album proper from the preacher-chic-touting fivesome is an intoxicating mix of apocalyptic riffs, sob-worthy singalongs and brooding blues.
Though Alberta Cross originally hail from London, their Neil Young-inspired vocals, watery guitars, and psychedelic production sound like they could have come tumbling out of Alabama or the hills of L.A.'s Laurel Canyon, efficiently appropriating the darker Southern Rock sound with an added tendency for narrative, dynamic arcs. .
For a band to be able to lay authentic claim to a genre which is traditionally attached to a specific part of the world, do they necessarily need to be born and bred there? Is it enough to have spent your life immersed in that particular sound, soaking in your influences to the extent that emulating it is your only natural course? That seems logical, but to learn that a band making (in this instance) such flagrantly Americana-tinged rock as Alberta Cross are Anglo-Swedish is still a bit jarring. Last year they supported Oasis on a tour of the UK’s favourite aircraft hangars, and it’s not too hard to see why they were chosen for the job. Not because they’re a bad band (although given Noel’s heroically terrible taste in support bands, it would be a fair assumption to make before hearing them), but because of the combination of loud guitars and bluesy elements they utilise and in which Oasis seemed to think they excelled in their latter years.
The ebb and flow of a band’s release chronology is such that, more often than not, missteps inevitably follow triumphs and vice versa. That rule holds true for New York-based quintet Alberta Cross, whose full-length debut Broken Side of Time can only be viewed as a hype balloon-puncturing letdown following their brilliantly raw The Thief and the Heartbreaker EP. A brave but clumsy attempt at expanding and refining the EP’s dressed-down folksy rock, Broken Side‘s sound never coalesces enough to truly electrify, and though the ever-reaching, sprawling coarseness that Alberta Cross mines so well is still present here, it’s noticeably less profound.
David Bazan David Bazan argues bitterly with God, and himself, on “Curse Your Branches” (Barsuk), his first solo album after leading Pedro the Lion for a decade. “If you knew what would happen and made us just the same/Then you, my lord, can take the blame,” he sings. It’s a startling change for Mr. Bazan, who was raised as an evangelical Christian, “with the threat of hell hanging over my head like a halo,” as “When We Fell” puts it.