Though mostly born from the same sessions as last year’s River Mirrors album, these nine songs operate on a different plane. More concise and song-based, yet with a broad range of moods and levels of intensity, the quartet conjure up caustic distorted storms of guitar over measured rhythms.
The spirit and intensity of Bluebottle Kiss is strongly present on both Before Before and its predecessor to the extent that ‘Only The Desert Grows’ comes off as a Sergio Leone-styled western version of Bluebottle Kiss’ ‘Gangsterland’ with its anchoring bass and drunken, staggering guitar squalls.
Jamie Hutchings’ vocals run the full gamut from lilting melodies on the verses of ‘Papa Was A Clown’ to the strangled howls that ride the thunderous sludge rock of ‘Dogfall’, sweetened only slightly by its female gang vocals. Over the years the quirks and unique vocal navigation of his lyrics have become more entrenched and amplified. The way Hutchings approaches his Fender guitar and in turn how that playing style interacts with his voice has, through decades of use and abuse, become a singular sum of its parts. It would be hard to imagine him creating such deep-reaching and raw takes as just a singer in a band, stripped of his instrument, as it would with probable cornerstones of his sound J Mascis and Neil Young.
Though Hutchings is the backbone and architect of Infinity Broke, Before Before still feels like the product of a band, such is the strength of the rhythm section – Jared Harrison (drums), Reuben Wills (bass) and Scott Hutchings (guitar, percussion). Without that locked precision and ability to both swing and pummel, the songs, as great as they are, wouldn’t have the same impact.
Easily equals of the Bad Seeds and The Drones as masters of corralling both the conventional and avant garde, Infinity Broke continue to mine a visceral and creative vein of rock music.
A shorter version of this review was first published in The Music