Turin Brakes – Outbursts

(Cooking Vinyl/Shock)

3 stars

I’ve never taken much notice of Turin Brakes before. I’m sure when they were first getting signed and designed in the first years of the decade, I was too busy following up my passion for twisted electronic music and discordant experimental rock to take much notice of a winsome folk duo.

Perhaps I’ve just gotten older and mellower, but their fifth album has a sound imbued with just the right colours for late Autumn into Winter.

Outbursts could be criticised for lacking vigour and dirt under the nails, and worse, for playing it safe. I doubt that the songs will be remembered in 50 years’ time, either. But right here, right now [groan] it does have something going for it.

If you like heart-on-sleeve, folk-oriented music that’s nicely arranged and – at times – a wee bit ornate, then this might be a good fit. At its core this is an acoustic record, but it’s full of sophisticated touches and subtle 21st Century technological tweaks. For instance, ‘Sea Change’ has a nice harmonised choral background, and towards the end, strings and tabla add to the swelling climax and denouement. ‘Mirror’ benefits from some grainy double bass, and by the time we get to the memorably woozy ‘Paper Heart’, the vocal harmonies are reminding me of the lesser-known early ‘70s work by the Beach Boys.

Ollie Knights and Gale Paridjanian both have clear, high voices, and a penchant for the dramatic, that occasionally makes you wonder if Radiohead’s Thom Yorke has got the folk bug. The music never gets close to Radiohead’s extremes, however, and will ultimately appeal more to those who like their music to be reliable and pleasant and unchallenging.

The album is very nicely recorded, and all the elements are mixed with a lushness that makes it a pleasurable listening experience, while the occasional flourishes of percussion instruments are caught with a good sense of dynamism. GARY STEEL

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