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Touchdown Julian Marszalek , April 23rd, 2009 06:09

The line between homage and outright facsimile is a fine one to balance. Go too far in one direction and the threat to self-identity becomes all too real; veer the other way and accusations of creative redundancy might become pertinent. With Touchdown — their third album — indie supergroup Brakes have developed an audacious high wire act that negates the use of a safety net for added thrills and spills.

First things first: Brakes have fashioned a good album and one that bears repeated listens. Driven by a sense of outright fun that's in perilously short supply these days, Touchdown is a collection that grins and gurns in equal measure. Brilliantly daft moments like 'Don't Take Me To Space (Man)' leap out of the speakers with a sense of immediacy and wild abandon.

So far so good. But does Touchdown stand up to deeper and closer scrutiny? All too often, it wears its heart a little too proudly on its sleeve. 'Crush On You' is an open love letter to the Pixies while the spunky burst that is 'Ancient Mysteries' is the south coast's answer to the goofy buzz pop of Fountains of Wayne. Elsewhere, 'Oh! Forever' takes it cues from Jesus & Mary Chain's Automatic period.

And yet, and yet . . . does that really matter? Is this something Brakes should be penalised for? Tarred, feathered and run out of town like mangy, rabid curs? If anything, this is music so effortlessly high on its own sense of fun that Brakes deserve a hearty slap on the back. This isn't malicious or facetious material but a set of songs that jump, leap and holler because they want to — because they feel good. Check the coruscating guitars of 'Hey Hey', a devastating cherry bomb that also has the good manners not to hang around too long. Likewise 'Do You Feel The Same' is in and out in under two minutes.

Touchdown is bolstered by a lack of pretension and edifice, and that it doesn't attempt to be anything else is one of its main strengths. But does this not also make it just a good album, rather than a great one?