The music world is rife with traditionally heavier artists who have garnered mainstream acclaim by softening their sound, but it’s hard to think of a traditionally mainstream band who have actually increased their public profile by incorporating heavier elements into their sound. …But then Don Broco aren’t just any band. Although already sizable, 2018’s Technology rocketed the Bedford outfit to the forefront of the alternative rock scene, not through “selling out” or leaning into mainstream tropes but by adding equal parts of classic 80s pop rock and pounding alt metal into their sound, resulting in an instant classic album that will surely go down as one of the definitive (alternative) musical statements of the modern era. Rather than cut and run, however, Don Broco have chosen to lean even further into the metallic influences for Technology’s highly anticipated follow-up, resulting in an album of less original and consistent material, that is nevertheless jampacked with Amazing Things.
Amazing Things sees the band doubling down on the metallic influence, incorporating distinctly Deftonesian nu metal edge that brings the band far more readily in line with the current alternative metal scene than the distinctly rock one from whence they came. Just like Technology, Amazing Things is frontloaded with some of the most instantaneous and elating songs to have ever come out of the alternative rock/metal scene. “Manchester Super Reds No 1 Fan” is undoubtedly the best song of the year and they really missed a trick by not putting that as the opener of the album. Simply switching the first two tracks around improves the record by 700%, allowing the irreverent faux aggression of “Gumshield” to operate at full effect once the energy is amped up to an appropriately ridiculous level. Although Amazing Things doesn’t quite match the flawless 11 song run of Technology, it manages a respectable 6 or so, going from strength to strength throughout the first half of the album, culminating the obviously “Minerva”-inspired (and dare I say usurping) “One True Prince.”
Along with the amped-up heaviness, drummer Matt Donnelly also plays a more prominent vocal role, balancing out all the extra aggression with some truly serene melodic material. Again, there are some slight sequencing issues, the oddly-placed “Anaheim” sapping some of the album’s mid-section momentum, rather than providing the cathartic climax it is clearly constructed to be. Although Technology certainly tapered off in its later stages, it’s back-end offerings only paled in comparison to what came before. The back half of Amazing Things, on the other hand, contains some genuinely baffling and ill-thought-out offerings. “Bruce Willis” starts off great with its thundering, nu metalised Ramstein stomp, but its nonsensical refrain of “yippie-ki-yay motherfucker” also fells like a moment where they may have finally jumped the proverbial shark. It sounds like a fun studio muck around that could have been a cult bonus track, but in context just seems ill-thought-out and unfinished. “Bad 4 Ur Health” also feels unfinished, its laid-back funk bass beach vibes oddly devolving into a repeated almost industrialised refrain of “piggy in the middle.” There’s the foundation for a great song in each of these tracks, but both also feel far from the finished product.
Unlike the ballistic trajectory of Technology, where each track can be seen as a slight drop down from the one previous, even if it maintains an extremely high level of quality throughout, Amazing things contains some serious late-album highlights. Foremost is “Revenge Body”, a hard-hitter which feels like a continuation of that one verse about the friend who works out too much from “Technology”, while “How Are You Done With Existing?” is another slower, more melodic number, replete with glorious boyband melodramatics that probably should have had the “Anaheim” spot. However, there’s also album closer “Easter Sunday”, which is fine, but just sort of exists the ends. there’s an argument to be mad that Amazing Things is a more consistent record than Technology, given its compact track-list, which still runs twelve tracks and forty-seven minutes. In that sense, the band have addressed what is perhaps the only valid criticism that could be levelled at Technology, even if the quality itself is somewhat uneven and at times eyebrow raising to say the least.
Amazing Things isn’t the landmark classic Technology has clearly proven itself to be, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t still one of the best albums of the year and indisputable proof that Don Broco are simply one of the best bands on the planet at the moment. …and I will absolutely body slam anybody in the room to prove that point.
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Don Broco’s Amazing Things was released on 22 October 2021 through SharpTone Records.