Don Broco take their rowdy, experimental sound into new territories with their latest album Technology.
They’ve always been pretty hard to pin into any one genre, and their eclectic mix can polarise opinion. However, with the follow up to 2015’s Automatic, Don Broco had a simple enough aim: to create songs that feel right. No rules or restrictions, as long as it’s fun and feels right to play and to listen to. As a result, Technology might just win over a few doubters.
Predominantly inspired by the recent Orwellian feel of current affairs, Technology delves headfirst into darker aspects of society, through songs such as “Porkies” and “Good Listener.” But it’s not without personal experience either.“T-Shirt Song” and “Everybody” investigate darker aspects of the band themselves. From Instagram to Brexit and beyond, nothing is off-limits.
The eponymously titled “Technology” jumpstarts the album with a punchy, gruff tirade against touched-up, filtered snapshots of life on social media. Don Broco are pretty much infamous for their tendencies to switch up tempos and rhythms throughout a track, which sounds like it should be a recipe for an incohesive, nonsensical disaster. “Technology” manages to pull it off, though, perfectly conveying the annoyance at otherwise good, close friends, who feel the need to share every aspect of their lives online.
If “Technology” encapsulates annoyance, “Stay Ignorant” captures anger towards wilful ignorance. Heavy beats, harmonic acoustic sections, and epic, emotive choruses flow into each other. These transitions show the breadth of emotions when considering those aspects of daily life people are often hung up on, which when compared to widely-ignored atrocities occurring across the world, are nothing.
Filled to the brim with bitter sarcasm, “Come Out To LA” starts by sounding like a parody of a holiday advert jingle, with a slightly Latin flare and drummer Tom Donnelly’s innocent-sounding vocals in stark contrast to Rob Damiani’s. But this very quickly morphs into the metal-tinged rock that we’re more used to from Don Broco. The message is clear: for decades, people have gone to places like LA and Hollywood in search of success, and come back bitter and empty-handed. It seems that Don Broco are no different, and victims to big promises from big names that don’t pay off.
“Pretty” is a supercharged hit, and continues “Come Out To LA’s” theme of facades; that pretty girl at the bar might not be as appealing once you get to know her. “Pretty” builds a bridge between Technology’s themes, combining dissatisfaction with both modern society and unfavourable political developments: “Thing about foreigners they’re taking our jobs we should send ‘em away.” Don Broco manage to pack in a lot of background, but at no expense to the quality of the song. With captivating, jarring electronic beats, it almost shouldn’t work, but this rough style really works with this song’s bitter tone.
Released in 2016, “Everybody” makes its long-awaited album appearance at last. The emotionally charged alt-rock track was plastered all over the radio in the summer of ‘16, appearing to win over a few previously unimpressed skeptics. Don Broco bridge the gap between rock and spoken word poetry to create an inexplicably addictive track. It’s a shame to think that this, one of their strongest tracks, wouldn’t exist without a near-death experience involving a car crash during one of the band’s darkest eras. However, it offers some comfort that they seem to have come out stronger because of it, completing their third full-length album as a collective.
Don Broco have a tell to let you know when they’re feeling especially angry. You know within the first five seconds of “Porkies” something is grinding their gears. Not only is there that angry singing voice Damiani can adopt at the drop of a hat, but the throbbing bassline and constant low beat are dead giveaways. And with the current political scene in the UK, it’s very easy to let the song fuel your mood. The following “Got To Be You” is a much needed refreshing lift in all its U2-esque glory, if still a little depressing overall.
“Good Listener” deals with the sinister idea that we are never truly alone with our technology. Don Broco recount instances of technology eavesdropping on private conversations for the sake of advertising quotas over a backdrop of playfully smooth guitar riffs. These worries about surveillance and unseen “Big Brother” type characters contrast against this early 00s pop-punk style song, yet another clash which shouldn’t work, but does.
“Something to Drink” sees the comeback of bitterness and anger last seen in “Porkies,” except this time the exasperation isn’t just aimed at the manipulation of media and public image. It concludes with a melancholy “We had a bad year – forget and erase it.” With the rise of certain political ideals over the past couple of years, turning to alcohol to manage the uncomfortable conversation topics that might come up in social situations is understandable.
“Potty Mouth” closes the album with a slightly juvenile tone. It’s inarguably quite petty to respond to people not liking your music with a song, but at least they fully recognise how meta this is in as many words:
“You got a song about songs,
You’re so meta.”
But “Potty Mouth” sums up Don Broco’s attitude to their own music perfectly. They’ve spent ten years together as a band making the music they want to make, and they’re not the type to be so easily persuaded otherwise. Considering the mindset with which this album was created, I find it difficult to see why anyone would want anything different from Don Broco.
Technology is a multifaceted, multilayered album. With each listen comes potential new takes on every song. Frankly, even if you have some different political views, you can’t deny that their songs are catchy as hell. If the government really is listening in on you, you might as well make it an enjoyable experience for them, anyway.
Catch Don Broco on tour in the UK this month and in the US in March/April. Tickets and more information is available on their website.
Watch the video for “Technology” here:
Find Don Broco at the links below:
Technology is available for purchase now: