The 2014 album Sleeping Operator by The Barr Brothers was a sweeping, symphonic concoction that thrilled in its inventive instrumentation and developed the band’s folk-rock tag with a vast range of global influences lending the record a degree of pleasing unpredictability. Despite the multitude of rewarding qualities, the record appeared to be over-polished at times and the fluctuation between styles ultimately proved to be its achilles heel. The band’s follow-up album Queen of the Breakers is now amongst us and it would appear that the character of the group has evolved to a point where their extensive individual skills, influences and contributions have been melded into an immensely satisfying and singularly unique voice. Listening to the album’s title track, it immediately becomes clear that everything has fallen very neatly into place stylistically and thematically and the results are thrilling and enthralling in equal measures.
The band were certainly committed in the design of their striking new sonic approach. The new record evolved during a creative sojourn holed up in a cabin on a frozen lake in their native Canada. There, away from engineers, phones, friends, partners, children, and with no plans, preconceptions or notes, they spent the time simply making sound to see where the time took them. It would appear that they have emerged from their self-imposed exile, blinking in the harsh light of 2017’s politically unstable landscape with one of the great North American albums of the century.
The stunning title track Queen of the Breakers has ditched the more florid global influences, focussing on more personal and home-grown influences and inspirations to allow their folk-rock perspective to flourish. The song is blessed with a driving melody synonymous with icons such as Bruce Springsteen and the late, great Tom Petty and its memorable hooks are complimented by Sarah Page’s enchanting harmonies and an epic, sweeping lead guitar which is reminiscent of Adam Granduciel’s striking work with The War on Drugs. It is therefore unsurprising that the The Barr Brothers have been confirmed as support for the band on their European leg of the current tour, which begins on 1st November after a handful of Canadian dates later in the month.
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Review by Iain Fox | @IainFoxPhoto