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Peter Broderick
How They Are Michael Waters , September 9th, 2010 07:30

Efterklang contributor Peter Broderick has produced a daringly pared down mini-album to keep fans occupied until release of his new full-length, a record delayed, curiously enough, by a knee injury. How They Are sees enchanting delicacy contrasting with moments of silence, for example the Eno-esque piano lines of 'With a Key', or the soft block-chord meanderings of 'When I'm Out'. The piano style and combination with a soft soulful vocal, often bring to mind Cinematic Orchestra's stirring 'To Build A Home'. 'Guilt's Tune' is the most evocative of the seven songs: a spoken word narrative is held aloft by minimal guitar and piano. Indeed, this imbues the songs with a cinematic quality straight out of the cutesy end of Hollywood. This gives a distinctly Americanised feel to the LP, which unfortunately lacks the continental character that so imbues Efterklang's work.

Another flaw here is a distinct lack of tonal or melodic variety. Although this may be forgivable given the brevity of the work, newcomers to Broderick's music will hardly be enthralled. Much of the material simply isn't strong enough to withstand its intimate exposure. The a capella opening track, for instance never gives up the emotional depths it clearly strives for, feeling self-indulgent thanks to banal lyrics and an unimaginative melody.

How They Are, as a whole feels like a stop-gap, rendering it weak as a standalone release. However, it could be seen to serve a larger purpose. Broderick has hinted that his forthcoming album proper is to be grandiose in scope and instrumentation: "after working so long and hard on this huge album... I was really loving the simplicity and spaciousness of good old fashioned acoustic music. No tricks, no electronics, just me doing what I can do at once with my voice and an instrument or two, however pathetic or beautiful that might be." Beautiful is, indeed, an appropriate adjective for the more captivating moments, however, a disappointing proportion of How They Are is sadly uninspiring.