Six studio albums in and it’s time to consider whether there has seriously been any progress in the musical career of Balham’s Turin Brakes? It’s a cliché to expect every artist to release that ‘change of direction’ album but in the case of “We Were Here” we are literally screaming out for it.
I have absolutely no doubt that both Olly Knights and Gale Paridjanian are extremely talented musicians, and their ability to write catchy and likeable songs is testament to the fact that they have managed to produce such a comprehensive back catalogue. However, this album and previous releases simply seem like a continuation from the one before. The old adage of ‘give the public what they want’ only works for so long. With the exception of 2-3 songs on this album there is nothing that would not have fitted perfectly onto JackInABox, Dark on Fire or The Optimist and more importantly have seemed out place.
Listening to “We Were Here” you start to feel a real sense of predictability. You almost know that the next track will essentially be similar to the one before (vocally and in its production). It’s such a shame. Recently I made similar comments concerning The Fratellis and Crystal Stilts albums. The major difference here though was that the song-writing had evolved and the production was fresher on both counts. The overall sound remained the same but there was importantly progress.
Interestingly when Turin Brakes do take a different route on this album the results are stunning. “Stop the World” is incredibly beautiful and has so many layers to it. It almost feels out of place here. And then you have “Blindsided Again”, with hits slow haunting intro. It has Pink Floyd similarities and the most wonderful guitar based finale. It’s a faultless track. To use a Pink Floyd analogy … it’s more a case of “Wish you were here” rather than “We were here”.
The highlights are unfortunately few and far between. The remainder of the album is forgettable and lacks the sparkle of the tracks mentioned above. Ironically there is a track called “Guess you heard”. The lyrics simply state “I guess you heard it all before”. Do I need to say anything else?
The full track-listing for “We Were Here” is as follows…