“Open The Barricades” is the debut full-length album by London-based band The Breakdown. An offering that has some predictable moments, but shows all the elements of a promising and successful record. The album has already received positive reviews from critics and audiences alike. The singles that came out of this album were a great representation of what the full album revolves around without spoiling all the surprises. After a few listens to this 11-track opus, here are my thoughts on every track and the feelings they left me with:
1- King of The Hill
This was one of the singles that came out before the album, and it’s pretty solid. The vocals give the idea that this band idolizes The Smiths and The Cure way too much. Not like they’re the only band in the world who’s been influenced by these giants, but I felt like something is lacking. The vocals and synths were pretty nice and it had the overall feeling of an English classic Rock tune.
2- High Life
This is when things began to get a little more diverse. The vocalist sounds much better than on the previous track, and the bassline is groovy as hell. The intense instrumental part near the ending has a pure rock n roll vibe to it. It feels like this song came out of a jamming session when the band was just feeling themselves and wanted to implement this energy into a working track. Stellar drums help keep the energy up as well.
3- Summer Song
Perfect name for such a bassline and a guitar tone that they’re using here. The more I listen to the vocals, the more I fall in love with this band. The synths/keyboards add to that summer feeling as well. But the element that appeals to me most here is the lengthy guitar solo, which is probably my favourite on the whole album. The guitarist(s) play a phrase or two from the solo in between the verses to give us a glimpse of what’s to come. When the second chorus is over and the actual solo starts, I was mesmerized and it felt like time has stopped. It’s an experience brindled with raw emotions and grit. When you think it’s over there’s more of that pedal/effect on the guitar and it plays melodically over the final chorus and the song ends beautifully there. This one is on its way to becoming a mainstream hit.
4- Waving At Aeroplanes
This one has a similar name and lyrical narrative to the popular B.o.B and Hayley Williams song, Airplanes. But what sets it apart is the gloomy way vocals and laid-back clean guitars during the verses. Even as the chorus distorts, it cries along in melancholy with the words. It’s rare for a song to have such a sweet sense of sadness as this one does.
5- 2 in the Heart
This one begins with a sleek drumbeat that makes it feel like it will be a pop-punk tune. It ends up sounding on the more alternative side due to the tone of the guitar, which is amazing, and the dreamy keyboards. This song probably has my favourite lyrics on the album, and the vocals feel like Coldplay made a collaboration with Oasis. It gives a nice nostalgic sensation, without losing the nice modern touch that the whole album is trying to maintain so far. It has another one of those touching and tear-jerking guitar solos.
6- The Girl in the Mondrian Dress
There’s no form of praise or amount of words that will suffice just how groovy this one is. The bass guitar is definitely the main character of the track, with the drums being its co-star. The guitars roar with overdrive that progressively increases as we approach the chorus. Some of the sweetest drum fills are to be found here as well, with the addition of some dreamy keyboard licks. This song’s short duration and catchy chorus make it a great contender for a mainstream hit and will probably garner a lot of radio play and recognition. Be sure that this is an all-around banger and won’t leave your head.
This one begins with heavily distorted bass, some keyboard lines and heavy guitar harmonics. The snare drum was highly prominent and moving. The vocals sound deeper and do a better job on the lower harmonies than the previous songs. The vocalist has many tricks up his sleeve.
8- Just Friends
A desperate lover’s song lyrically, but musically it’s a (geniusly) upbeat piece. The main melody is a bunch of repeating arpeggios that confirm just how skilled this band’s guitar compositions are. These melodies are accentuated once again by the awesome synths. Instead of a solo this time, it has a nice instrumental section for an outro.
9- A Daniel Comes to Judge
This one is might seem like it’s every album’s must-have ballad which builds up to a solo, but it’s more than just that. The vocals have so much emotional weight to them, the rhythm section held its ground despite the softness of the track, and the crescendo that led to the guitar solo was pretty neat and climactic. I fell in love with the track instantly at that moment.
This one has some more amazing drum work in between its mid-tempo verses, energetic chorus and stellar keyboard work. It reminds me a lot of the classic rock legend The Who because of its guitar tone and the backing vocals. There is one more of those lengthy guitar solos here, and it sent shivers down my spine. An effortless 10/10 track.
11- Wishing Well (Open The Barricades)
This track has some ethereal (and almost theatrical) vocals. It felt dreamy and had some really nice guitar moments but it felt pretty predictable in my opinion. The solid rhythm and melodies make it a great closer to the album nonetheless.
In conclusion, this album may have its play-it-safe moments, but it’s a finely crafted piece of music anyway. The stellar vocals are unmatched in today’s rock scene and the chemistry that the rhythm section has with one another are just a few of the elements that ensure this album’s success and mainstream appeal shortly. I’m sure it will be an instant hit once it drops and I can’t wait to see how The Breakdown’s musical journey will pan out, as they are a tight and hard-working bunch of rockers.