Published Jun 24, 2016New Zealand brother-sister duo Broods explore new, stadium-oriented synth-pop territory on their second full-length release Conscious, but those explorations don't necessarily translate as an innovative approach to the genre.
Conscious has a beefier sonic approach than 2014's Evergreen. It's replete with walls of sound, built up with pastiches of '80s power ballads, but for an album aiming at a grandiose sound, there's a disappointing failure to shake listeners awake and captivate them with memorable moments.
The album falls into a rut by the halfway mark; the sound and bittersweet tone is a little too consistent, and it lacks the peaks of classic power ballads (money notes, or bridges followed by key-changing choruses). The result is somewhat of an auditory trudge.
While there's nothing actively terrible about Conscious, the nondescript nature of its tracks suggests a failure to thoughtfully edit the album. At 13 songs, there was room to leave some of the least engaging material aside, particularly the pleasant-but-dull cuts like "We Had Everything" and "Hold The Line." And while "Worth The Fight" valiantly experiments with slower tempos, the result is an unfortunate synth-dirge.
There are pleasing moments here: "Heartlines" (co-written with Lorde) charts uneasy emotional territory with a crisp beat and slow, tantalizing build, smoothly executing an ambiguous neither-major-nor-minor sentiment, while "Recovery" moves towards the summer dance floor banger zone before sidestepping into a downtempo whirlpool of sound that both surprises and delights.
Those strengths aside though, Conscious is merely competent — never truly exciting. (Capitol)