I really like this band, but this album could easily have been a disappointment. Primarily, would being shouted at for forty minutes whilst the drums were enthusiastically spanked by a Mancunian Duracell Bunny having a fit really have been all that much fun to listen to, because that’s easily what Born to Lose could have been. Brown Brogues are a terrific live band, but they’re a whirlwind of delay and energy, and as awesome as seeing them play is, it is still a bit of an assault. For a (barely) full-length record, however, you want something a little more subtle. Sure, blow people’s tits off occasionally, but you can’t just go at it hammer and tongs for forty minutes without wearing people out.
Without diluting their signature sound at all, the band have nevertheless broken this up really well, and it makes for a gleefully boisterous listen. It’s never entirely obvious when these guys are being serious, either, and the West Coast harmonies on tunes like Mike, I Love You serve to not only give the album some sonic nuance.* You’re Not Mine, which follows it, is also more of a growler than a dervish, and spends its three minutes snarling at you, rather than slapping you around the face.
There’s something of the b-movie scumbag about this album, actually. The snippets of movie dialogue emphasise this, and in actual fact, when listening to this I find myself comparing them to Song, by Toad Records’ own Lil Daggers, which is not a comparison I’d have thought to make six months ago. Add a Hammond Organ and I think you’d find a pair of kindred spirits, actually.
When you become friends with a band it can always be a fraught business listening to their debut album, but after a burst of initial listening, a cooling off period and then another burst of listening I think I can safely say that Brown Brogues have nailed this. Subtle it ain’t, but it’s a smart, surprisingly well-judged record and I think the band can be pretty chuffed with themselves, particularly as they aren’t what you’d call an obvious ‘album band’.
*Yes, yes I really did say that. ‘Sonic nuance’ – get it right up ye!