The let down album. It’s one of the absolute worst things that can happen in my book.

Every now and again you find a new little gem of a band that skyrockets straight to your “top 5 of the year”, you play their album until you can sing most songs backwards and a year or two later you’re happy to find out they’re releasing a new one! You anxiously press play and you’re ready to be enveloped by a warm blanket of recognition combined with the thrill of discovering the new songs and the impatient feeling of wanting to commit each one to memory word for word as soon as possible.

Turin Brakes

This happened to me with Turin Brakes. I first got to know them when they were the opening band for a Travis concert I saw back in 2001. They were touring for their first album The Optimist LP (which is great! for instance: Feeling Oblivion, State of Things (my favourite!), and the small hit Emergency 72). I was charmed off my socks by their folky songs, Olly Knights’ rough around the edges style of singing and their on stage muddling (as I remember pretty much every thing that could go wrong did, including about three strings breaking with no backup guitar, but they jammed their way through it).

Their second album Ether Song definitely had the whole warm blanket thing going on, particularly songs like Pain Killer, Blue Hour and Self Help. After that I kind of lost track of Turin Brakes for a bit, missing their 2005 release JackInABox. But when I recently found out they were releasing their fourth: Dark On Fire [September 2007], I was ready to hop back on the bandwagon!

Turin Brakes - Dark on FireBut there it was, the let down album. Listening to the first track, Last Chance, my eager smile already started to sag, some kind of full on generic rock sound appears to have taken over from the acoustic magic. I quickly skipped to the next song, hoping it was just a startup glitch. Alas…

In short, the powerful folky fuel has been diluted into middle of the road rock. There are some songs that still stand out, most notably the wonderful title track Dark On Fire (the opening strum and the strings are definitely warm blanket material). But all the brooding energy of The Optimist seems to have fizzled out. What a shame!

Watch the clip to the first single Stalker here. Creepy lyrics (and dito video!), but somehow I’m not convinced.

But for the sake of the warm blanket, here’s a clip of two great Turin Brakes songs back to back: Over & Over and Feeling Oblivion: