By Jesii Dee
British veteran acoustic rockers Turin Brakes sneak up on you and stay a while with their ninth release, Lost Property. Listening to this record reminded me of a more retro sound: a clean and simple mix of real instruments, minimal vocal ballet while still being impressive, and lyrics that tell a story. With hints of 70's Americana, late 90's grunge and mid 2000's indie rock, it all mixes well together to create a rich and beautiful record from start to finish.
Starting off with a track called “96” with a dash of radio static, their quintessential acoustic guitar builds into a full band, with a twang of electric guitar and vocals. The second track, “Keep Me Around,” is vocally stronger, and lyrically it's a sweet snapshot into how a good lover can kill off your self-doubt and anxiety.
“The Quiet Ones” is a stand-out track on the entire record. It is actually a true acoustic track to start with, allowing for singer Olly Knights to bring you in close. Breaking into the acoustic and electric guitar combo sound that fills the album, the band keeps things interesting by switching back to the bare basic acoustic points of importance. It's a bit haunting toward the end even, drawing out the sounds of a fading piano. The title track, “Lost Property,” is a bit more dreamy with a clearly defined intention, but it gets a bit hazy around the edges while repeating the line "I will wait" to someone that fades just a little more away with time.
“Rome” has the strongest 70's vibe to it, which works well to break out of the melancholy from the prior track. Describing idyllic memory of literal places and times, the energy involved with them leads up to the final statement "I've always believed in nothing // I've always believed in nothing // Nobody knows, nobody knows," ending in a swirl of sounds mirroring the start of the records radio static.
“Brighter in the Dark” stays true to the form they've created thus far, dancing between grand statements and back down to focused nuanced moments. “Save You” is a bit more heavy-handed, relying on a few too many clichés to create the track. “Martini” brings things back with a smooth acoustic guitar and bare vocals. It sounds very much like a live recording, and they do it well.
What I find most interesting about this band is that they seem to be playing around with their own sounds from track to track, as well as within the songs themselves. Turin Brakes maintains a common theme, illustrated once more by “Jump Start,” a song about a lost lover that they want to bring back from an invisible edge. “Hope We Make It Through” stays on this theme, but brings it back to a more optimistic viewpoint and probably their longest musical interlude as well at the peak of the song.
The final track, “Black Rabbit,” closes out the record with a slow burn intro with a simple and repetitive guitar hook on loop backing up the now familiar drawl of Knight’s vocals. It's quite a statement, full of political reflection on eight billion people around the world, and how they return to dust. The song switches half way through into the full band, and the strings play them out.
Turin Brakes have put together a hell of a record with Lost Property. I encourage you to give this a spin if you're into music that's done without a lot of modern frills: acoustic guitar base, electric twang added through and distinct vocals. They manage to paint a textured and complex image within each song, bringing it all together to form a great record.