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The Broken Family Band
Please And Thank You Jeremy Allen , May 20th, 2009 06:52

Faced with Please And Thank You, The Broken Family Band's seventh studio album, it's difficult to know what else to add to the quiet superlatives that have already been thrown their way. Formidable, funny, feisty and fucking ace are just some of the words that spring to mind when listening to their brand of Cambridgeshire alt-country. They've actually stealthily reached the point where the "country" bit has been almost entirely dispensed with, but this gradual evolution has stopped neither swagger nor hooks and wit from being as deadly as ever.

The guitar work is understatedly impressive, and Steve Adams' lyrics are as biting and caustic as you've come to expect. While the band have accumulated a more than respectable fanbase, a relative lack of 'serious' recognition might rankle with certain temperamental artistic types — but TBFB continue to deliver the goods with little fuss. This isn't esoteric or niche, it's beautifully-crafted rock pop that even the most clot-brained simpleton mesmerized by Sarah Boyle should be able to get. Yet being contrary by nature, The Broken Family Band simply aren't inconvenienced by the fact they're not a household name and aren't likely to become one.

Well more fool those who won't experience the plaintive gorgeousness of 'You Did A Bad Thing', and more's the pity that they won't enjoy the thrill of 'Cinema vs House'. That's not to mention the simple bad fortune that faces those who won't get to enjoy the disparaging wit and drollery of 'St Albans', a song that is in every part superior to the actual place. Where their last album Hello Love concentrated on the first heart-tingling throws of reciprocated infatuation and all the loveliness that brings, as a concept for an album, this became a little overwhelming and, dare one say it, smug. In a post-Beatles solo smug kind of way. It was still a great record — The Broken Family Band's quality control would hardly permit otherwise — but Please and Thank You is greater.

Their shift from country-tinged to full on alt-rock was pupating last time round, whereas this is the sound of a complete metamorphosis: it's so alt rock in places ('Don't Bury Us') it almost sounds exactly like Pavement, which is no bad thing. So prolific are The Broken Family Band that, as surely as night follows day, the faithful can no doubt expect another brilliant album at the same time next year. Here's hoping that Please And Thank You will find them new admirers during the intervening hibernation.