There are storytellers, and there are artists who paint vivid pictures with words and music. There are artists willing to look inward, and there are those willing to bare it all, exposing raw, vulnerable soul to the world around them. There are artists who can make you feel, and those that make you melt within yourself. For Melbourne, Australia’s Broads they are the latter in each case and their newest full-length Stay Connected is proof positive.
Stay Connected is pure musical evolution at its finest. Their self-titled debut EP, which dropped in 2014, was a sparse affair with nothing but two acoustic guitars and the sultry, angelic voices of Kelly Day and Jane Hendry. Their 2017 follow up, Vacancy, was a triumphant display of indie noir, expanding on their original minimalism with spacious accompaniment which allowed Day and Hendry to expand their wings without ever having them in danger of being clipped in the process. Stay Connected sees the duo go even further down road with lush production and a full backing ensemble on nearly every track, including a handful that are driven to heavier and more bombastic depths than this act has ever explored in the past. Still at the foundation of this musical mansion is Day and Hendry weaving dreamlike vocal lines in and out of each song like sirens leading us all to the proverbial rocks. It’s not a crashing disaster we’re headed for though. On the contrary its an awakening of the spirit at every turn.
Stay Connected also carries a somewhat darker tone than previous efforts. Day and Hendry always had a penchant for tenebrous and smokey soundscapes, complete with biting social commentary peppered into always memorable lyrics. This time around it would appear there are fewer reprieves from the bouts of melancholy. Whether it’s the unbridled sorrow of a track like “No Love Required” or the cheeky chastising of our current state of ‘Insta-culture’ in “Mirror”, every track has the ability to become a contemplative meditation. Day and Hendry are also master storytellers and this album finds them at the top of their game. There are once again several tracks here, such as “Emily” and “Velvet Paradise” that weave almost depressive tales of the have-nots who were maybe part of the haves at some point.
Where Broads possibly excel more than pretty much all of their contemporaries is the way they can write a song that becomes utterly all-encompassing. (Take, for example, the passionate and somewhat despondent chorus from “I Fed The Horse”. It will quite literally stay with you for days afterwards.) Day and Hendry also penned multiple textured tracks that slither their way past the five-minute mark, namely “Mushies”, “Long Shot”, and “Bones”. Each one is a captivating deep dive into giving and taking, twilight and darkness, forlorn sanity and scant madness.
When Vacancy came out I wrote that that album ‘wrecked me’ on so many levels. I was taken to my knees by its magnitude and beauty. I honestly wasn’t sure I could write another full review of an album and do it the justice it deserved. Yet here I sit, again with a Broads album in my ears, trying to find the right words to truly explain how special these talents are that stand before us. I’ve, once again, struggled to write this review, stopping and starting over and over, trying to find the catchiest phrases or the perfect descriptors to capture these gorgeous sonic landscapes. It feels like trying to catch an angel with a butterfly net. I keep missing and falling onto a warm summer grass while she floats up to the heavens, not belonging to me or anyone else in the end. So I’ll stop trying. I’ll put the lights down, I’ll throw the headphones on, and I’ll allow this album to also wreck me over and over again. I suggest you just go ahead and do the same.