December 31, 2021 Don Broco – Amazing Things (Album Review)
How does one even begin to categorize the delicious cacophony that is Don Broco? Other bands might skirt their assigned genre and flaunt their eclecticism for a release or two, but these psycho Brits have made a career out of pissing on expectations. No doubt their latest, Amazing Things, set fire to the rain when it arrived back on October 22, 2021 thanks to SharpTone Records.
Always unique, forever pushing boundaries: that’s the Don Broco way. Since 2008, these lads from across the pond have been chaotically amalgamating Electro, Pop, Rock, Metal, and much more, with lush results. Proving themselves with 2012’s Priorities, they went on to build an even stronger foundation with 2015’s Automatic and 2018’s Technology, gaining a fan base across the globe.
Which leads us to album number four. Much like its predecessor, Amazing Things packages its wit and storytelling inside a candy-coating of everything happening in music these days, from Synthpop to Alt Metal, forming a cohesive collection that will have you once again doubting the concept of genre. Thus, yet again, Don Broco—Rob Damiani (vocals, electronics), Simon Delaney (guitar), Tom Doyle (bass), and Matt Donnelly (drums)—does to genre what Ghostface did to Steven Orth and Casey Becker.
Produced by Dan Lancaster (Bring Me the Horizon, One OK Rock) and Grammy Award-winning Jason Perry (Fatherson, Molotov), the album holds nothing back. At 12-songs, none of which sound remotely like their fellow nestlings, it is chock full of frenetic experimentation sold as genius sonic rebellion. So, is it a masterpiece?
With their eyes (and pens) gazing beyond the facade, the quintet drafts material that, while sounding like an eargasm, still manages to offer some food for thought—that is, if you are hungry. Take, for instance, the album’s opening track, “Gumshield.” A raucous affair, musically speaking, the lyrics find Damiani delving into the world of social media, faked news, and the many sermons of cancel culture. Does it all frustrate you, too?
Coincidentally, it was having their social media (fake) hacked that inspired the chaotic earworm “Manchester Super Reds No. 1 Fan.” With notes of the Beastie Boys, and moments that beg for a sing-along, it’s not a shock that the band released the song as the album’s first single/video. But this is also not a unique situation, in that, somehow amid their molten core of ecstatic lunacy, Don Broco always taps into something catchy that worms its way into our bones. For evidence, check out the dirty bass of “Endorphins,” demented multipass of “Bruce Willis,” or any song on the album, really.
They are careful to balance this sonic hysteria (sonysteria?) with material that is likely to inspire a multitude of discussions—from keeping up with the seductive socioeconomics of “Swimwear Season” to whether the seemingly vapid “Revenge Body” offers more than tight abs. Lyrically, that is. For sound explorations, they present us with undeniably infectious Pop sensibilities baked into the early 2000s Alt Rock of “One True Prince,” glittering rays of soulful Synthpop (“Anaheim”), and even some old-school R&B vibes on the slinky “Bad 4 Ur Health.” Add to all of this some serious frustration (“Uber”), an anti-suicide/pro-real friends PSA (“How Are You Done With Existing?”), and the album’s show-stopping, emotional conclusion (“Easter Sunday”).
At this stage in the game, Don Broco is all too aware that the same series of words can tell a thousand very different stories. They use this, playing with listeners as they take us through the seemingly mundane, such as an Uber ride, only to explore the prevalence of racism in our culture. Or, if you prefer, the dissection of ‘online surreality’ via sports equipment. It’s simple and not; genius in the same way that Seth MacFarlane’s use of the harsh absurdities of our existence ironically creates some of the most intelligent ‘low brow’ comedy.
Whereas Technology put its scalpel to the advancements that have made our lives so much easier, Amazing Things questions whether any of this is truly ‘progress’. Because if the internet is bringing us all so much closer, why do you have to be on the brink of suicide to hear a friendly voice? And, perhaps most importantly, why does Bruce Willis want to trample over our cream sofa? It hurts our minds, but it’s a good hurt. So, because we’re proud masochists, Cryptic Rock gives Amazing Things 5 out of 5 stars. (Question: Are we going to die hard in the Uber?)