Abandoning the alt-rock/post-punk flirtations of 2007's Dark on Fire, Turin Brakes return to their indie folk roots on 2010's Outbursts. While the experiment with a more edgy, rock-oriented sound worked well for the British duo, singer/songwriters Olly Knights and Gale Paridjanian are obviously most at home with their comfortable brand of melodic folk-inflected pop, and that is the sound that makes up most of the tracks on Outbursts. These are inward-looking tunes with deeply searching, poetic lyrics and melodies that stick in your ear.
There are two distinct groups that like the U.K.-based duo Turin Brakes. First group: those who own every album, notice minute distinctions in style, have a distinct memory attached to every song, think they were robbed of the Mercury Music Prize, and make big fools of themselves around the band. Second group: absolutely love Turin Brakes' "Painkiller (Summer Rain)" and have no idea who the artist is.
Remember the New Acoustic Movement? The short-lived, ill-advised attempt to drag a bunch of vaguely-similar-sounding, acoustic guitar-toting bands into the limelight? This hastily-devised scene, concocted by the British music press in order to fill the gap left by Britpop at the dawn of the last decade, died a premature death as the new rock revolution took hold, and ‘cooler’ artists like the Strokes and the White Stripes effortlessly reinvigorated the then-ailing guitar rock scene. But ten years on, despite much of NAM (as it became known… Urgh) completely obliterated (save for Coldplay and Elbow, who have gone on to far greater things) by the onslaught of more angular, more exciting—some would say less whimsical—music, a number of the scene’s adopted artists still lurk in the lower reaches of British guitar music. Look carefully and you’ll see Travis or Starsailor, quietly minding their own business, making albums few people are likely to buy.
If you spent the previous decade keeping up with a wimpier stripe of UK rock music, 2010 is shaping up to be a hell of a year-- by May, we'll have already seen new albums from Badly Drawn Boy, Tom McRae, Athlete, and Keane. So I suppose it's as appropriate a time as any for early 2000s hype and Take That ghostwriters Turin Brakes to reintroduce themselves. The self-released Outbursts mostly operates on a scale reminiscent of their humble beginnings-- frantically strummed acoustics, dewy lead guitar, close harmonies, and an occasional spit shine of synthesizer.
A stripped-back affair, but overly familiar and sadly nondescript. Tom Hocknell 2010 This, their first studio album since 2007’s Dark on Fire, continues Turin Brakes’ folk-infused journey from the southern end of London’s Northern Line. Since their emergence via the spuriously labelled ‘new acoustic movement’, alongside Kings of Convenience, in 2001, they have been occasionally written off as insubstantial, despite their albums suggesting otherwise.