I remember very clearly having a conversation many years ago with one of my former bosses, Joel Ruimy, about the band Nirvana. Joel was a big music fan, but his tastes ran decidedly towards classic rock. We would always talk about music, and I learned a ton from him. One day he asked me why I liked Nirvana, and prefaced it by saying he couldn’t get into the band because he couldn’t understand the words Kurt Cobain was singing. I told him it wasn’t important to understand the words. All you had to do was feel the fury.
Sometimes intent outweighs content. Music can move you because of how it makes you feel, regardless of any perceived lyrical or even social importance. If it gets you moving, it has often served its purpose. If you as a listener can connect with any given song at a gut level, the artist has gone a long way to winning you over. The Toronto trio Recordbreaker has made that connection with me on their recent release titled “3,” and may just do the same with you.
The opening track on the album is called “Solutions,” and kicks things off nicely. The song features some tasty guitar work, and actually good instrumentation throughout. Angst is the straw that stirs the drink on this one. There are some yummy hooks, and the lyrics are very action-oriented. I like the line “Everybody wants the quick solution/But what we need is revolution.” There’s a post-Punk feel to this tune, which puts me in mind of early Streetheart with flashes of the formative years of U2 for good measure. It’s a musical call to arms, and has me on board right from the get-go.
The next number is titled “Don’t Stop Now,” and continues the theme of action, although this time in the context of relationships, at least on the surface. Musically, the instrumentation bubbles and soars, and kind up puts me in mind of the band Copyright, or even some of Robin Black’s material, albeit without the dark edges. It’s a good effort and is powered by an energetic performance by the band.
“Not Comin’ Home” has a real swagger to it, musically speaking, and offers some delicious hooks. It’s a relatively short number at just 2:51 run time, but does its job, and more importantly, it leaves you wanting more. While listening to it, I had thoughts of the Winnipeg band The Pumps, although not necessarily for the music itself, but the hard driving delivery that made them a favourite of mine. So far I am pretty impressed with this album.
“Bound To Tell A Lie” continues the trend of good instrumentation, with a particularly nice showing from the keyboard and drum players. There are some nice harmonies on this track. Once again I draw a comparison to Streetheart on this song, especially when it comes to the singing, although it also kind of puts me in mind of some of The Cars ballads in terms of overall structure. It isn’t in the heavyweight category lyrically, but that is forgivable. This song doesn’t break the three minute mark, and this may be an example where it perhaps could have been expanded by adding a guitar or keyboard solo without losing any of the tune’s integrity.
The next track is titled “It’s All Worth It.” And it certainly is. The song has some nice percussion work and a polished sound. It may be the strongest track on the album. There are some nice tempo changes, and I enjoyed the keyboard work immensely. There’s a bit of a Utopia-era Todd Rundgren feel to the song, which is a good thing. I love the line “It’s all worth it for this moment right here.” It’s wonderful when you can convey emotion as clearly as Recordbreaker has on this track.
“Try Harder” is another relationship song, specifically around the break up phase. It is a poppy tune with some nice drumming and keyboards. Songs such as this are a roll of the dice. They can either come across as sincere, heartfelt, and chock full of introspection, such as John Lennon’s “I’m Losing You,” or end up sounding somewhat wimpy like Michael Bolton’s “How Am I Supposed To Live Without You?” Unfortunately, with lyrics such as “I’m gonna freeze/In this snow/So please/Don’t, don’t/Don’t go/Don’t go/Please don’t go/I’ll try/Harder/I’ll try/Harder than ever before” you kind of get the idea which category this one fits into.
The song “Still Feels Good” finds Recordbreaker back in the groove, and the guitar playing is pretty cool. The keyboard work is also stellar. This track has a power ballad aura about it, and I suppose that it has become necessary to have songs like that in just about any band’s repertoire. The upside is that fans do tend to connect with numbers like that, although those types of songs are usually the first about which critics pillory a band. I’ll stop short of that and say it is a good effort, if a little on the thin side lyrically speaking.
There is a certain whiff of Motown in the song “No Such Thing As Nowhere,” although not overwhelmingly so. In fact, I would also not be surprised if this particular band was influenced by 80s music. The tune features some nice harmonies and I really like the lyrics. It could operate as the story of a band struggling to find success but showing their resolve to continue on, or as a song about an enduring relationship. Either way it works, and there is a definite charm to this tune.
“Change My Ways” is another polished track benefitting from some sweet synthesizer and drum playing. However, to my thinking the song needs a bit more swagger to it and maybe some backbone to boot. It runs pretty close to another song on the album, namely “Try Harder,” in that it seems to revolve around a relationship and the singer offering to change for the person to whom they are singing. It kind of smacks of the types of things that have gone wrong in relationships I have had. It’s not working so you vow to change, but when you do the other person loses their respect for you because they have won the power struggles that happen in every relationship. Then you find yourself wondering just what the hell went wrong. Been there, done that, lost the t-shirt in the divorce. It’s not a bad song, but lyrically my advice – delivered with a knowing pat on the back – would be to man up.
The next track is called “Sure Ain’t Love.” It has a bit of a doo-wop feel to it, although with a heavier delivery. There is some nice guitar, drum and keyboard work on display here, and the vocal work shines, especially when it comes to the background vocal harmonies. Again, there is a danger with these types of songs of slipping over the line into schmaltzy latter-day Aerosmith territory. I’m looking at you, What It Takes! Recordbreaker doesn’t quite fall into that quagmire, but they’d better tread carefully.
“Tell Me” finishes off the album on a high note, building nicely right from the beginning. I would like to see the band do more of this type of tune. The song kind of reminds me of something Sloan might have concocted, and that is high praise. Lyrically, it is pretty straight forward, and in this case that’s a good thing. It is a driving, rhythmic track, and one of the strongest on the album. The guitar playing stands out and the vocals are very well executed. This song is a gem on this album in my opinion.
There are some very encouraging signs here from Recordbreaker. There seems to be a good attitude towards the album making craft and it really shows in terms of a polished offering. This could definitely be a band we could hear great things from moving forward. You feel a sense of excitement listening to “3” and that is a big positive. It grabs your attention and holds you right through the eleven tracks, and that in itself is a victory. Now I’m not saying this is a perfect album, but it certainly holds up to multiple listenings.
I am impressed with both the band and this album and expect good things to follow from Recordbreaker. I’m hoping the band will continue to show signs of growth lyrically and keep on exploring varied musical paths if just for the exercise alone. Recordbreaker seem to be on the verge of a breakthrough and it might not take much to get them to that next level. Best of luck, boys! Ride the wave.
You can hear them for yourself at http://recordbreaker.bandcamp.com/
Top Tracks: “It’s All Worth It;” “Not Comin’ Home;” “Tell Me;” “Solutions”
Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good) +*swoop*