How They Are How They Are


Peter Broderick Peter BroderickHow They Are

8.3 / 10


People in the indie world are starting to ask questions: Does Peter Broderick ever do anything wrong? We can’t remember a weak, dispensable or even mediocre record in the long and very productive string of releases in the last three years of frantic activity. Everything he publishes, how ever insignificant, exotic, accidental or transitory –from split singles, arty-farty soundtracks, collaborations and solo projects (it would be impossible to name them all here without confusing the reader), are of excellent quality and creativity, sometimes in a neo-classic vein and other times folky, and almost always with a sediment of sadness and fragility that disarms and moves, without room for irony or frivolity. It’s a fascinating case of talent well used, constant and active and also attentive and generous towards fans, who regularly get fresh quality news from the artist, who’s well on his way to become the golden boy of the present independent scene. “How They Are” is a marvellous example to illustrate the idea that we’re witnessing the start of a career that can grow and grow for as long as the American wants, and that this is only the tip of the iceberg of his capabilities. How many composers and authors these days can deliver an EP bridging two albums and make it the best record we’ve heard this year? For Broderick, this mini album is nothing more than a way to pass the time while he was recovering from a complicated knee operation, something like an impasse before completing the recording of his upcoming solo album. During a couple of months of extreme cocooning, between rehabilitation sessions and medical routines, our young genius had the inspiration to write perfect songs, with his computer and without instruments. Afterwards, almost back on his feet, he played them in the studio in one day of recording. But... if this is only a casual and almost accidental release, what will happen if he does one “for real”?Only for “Sideline”, the opening track which starts with Broderick’s voice whispering “everybody seem so sad,” we should be thankful to whoever was responsible for that knee injury. The whispering lasts for a spine-chilling minute and-a-half, but it all becomes more complicated when, out of nowhere, piano notes start accompanying the words in a lethal way and everything goes haywire. There is a bit of Nick Drake in that solitary voice, but the piano adds a gloomier and resounding tone to the song. Later on the spirit of Drake reappears in “With A Key”, which has a more crepuscular atmosphere, but the core of the record is marked by the most neo-classical side of the artist. “Human Eyeballs On Toast” and “Pulling The Rain” point, without much ado, at post-Greenaway Michael Nyman: a few motives or melodic story lines by the piano transformed into small, minimalist poems. “When I’m Gone” functions as a desperate, mute Tom Waits ballad without the need for whiskey to stress the drama. And in case anyone still had doubts about Broderick’s capacity to create orthodox compositions with guitar and chorus, there’s “Hello To Nils” to seal the deal, with that “I Say Goodbye Too Often” moving forward at cruising speed.It’s possible that when his next album comes out, the material on it will have nothing to do aesthetically and expressively with “How They Are” and that this record will end up as an anecdote in his career. In fact, Broderick himself has confirmed that the new release, scheduled for 2011, will be an album recorded with a full band, and broad and varied instrumentation. Almost the complete opposite to this EP. But the outburst of minimalism and austerity and the feeling of solitude that permeates everything is precisely what transmits so much singularity to these songs. Unique and memorable material. Let’s hope that he’ll forgive us, I’m sure he’ll understand: could someone please take a hammer to Peter Broderick’s knees? David Broc

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