Broken Baby release LP
Broken Baby’s highly awaited eponymous album, their first full length, doesn’t waste any time in getting right into the meat and potatoes of the band’s carnal lust for amplified heat in the track “Year of the Fat Man,” which gets the ball rolling with thunderous post-punk flare. The boisterousness of the vocal dueling between Alex Dezen and his counterpart Amber Bollinger starts to crack and break away from the pressure of the gilded guitar banter going on in the foreground, and it’s all we can do to keep from shaking our bodies to the pulsating beat of a record that only takes 60 seconds to grab us by the throat and transport us into Broken Baby’s twisted sonic realm.
“Personality Party” follows “Year of the Fat Man” in a myriad of synthesized shooting stars that assault us with their streaking light before giving up the stage to Bollinger, who commands the volume like the conductor of a symphony orchestra. It primes us for the blood, sweat and tears of “Pass the Acetone,” one of the funkier songs on the album and easily the most melodic. “It’s My Show” slings a Sonic Youth-style abstraction of harmonies in our direction before ultimately making room for “Hello from the Other Side of Hell No,” which reels us back into familiar intuitiveness.
“In Through the Output” is an excellent homage to the Midwestern post-punk groups that paced the way for Broken Baby’s insular vibrato, but it doesn’t descend into retrospection. There’s little contemplation to be found in Broken Baby, mostly because these two are far more concerned with where we’re going as a culture at the moment (aren’t we all?). “Are You Afraid?” is a haunting slice of alt-rock swing, but it pales next to the shadowy contentment of “Why Don’t We Do Anything Fun,” which might be the darkest pop/rock song released in this century.
The song that I found to be the most demonstrative of Broken Baby’s burgeoning skillset is “This is How It Stays the Same,” which in a lot of ways sums up the ethos of the band both musically and lyrically. It’s an amalgamation of all the assorted influences present in the previous eight tracks and highlights Bollinger’s total control over the band’s creative face. I don’t know where she came from or how she got here, but she’s got to be the most intriguing figure to enter the American pop lexicon in a very, very long time.
Broken Baby wraps up with the slinking “Something, Somehow” which charts a unique route between electric R&B and vintage garage punk with the dexterity of a long legged spider. When I finished listening to this record through the first time, I wanted to call it the one legit triumph for indie rock in 2018, but upon further review I decided that statement was just too limiting for this band’s achievement. It’s not as staggering as Meet the Beatles, but for this moment in time it’s the best full length debut we’ve heard in a generation, and there’s no two ways about it.