Sunday, April 17, 2011

Breaking Laces - When You Find Out


Breaking Laces - When You Find Out
2011, Tenacity Records

Brooklyn's Breaking Laces have developed a hard-won, fiercely loyal grass roots fan base over the past seven years, selling close to 200,000 units (CDs/downloads) in that time.  Combining vocalist/guitarist/songwriter Willem Hartong's heart-on-sleeve lyrical style and a grand pop musical vision, Breaking Laces continue to open doors in the Indie Rock world.  Breaking Laces latest effort, When You Find Out, attempts to marry simple acoustic arrangements with a big pop sound, and meets with mixed success. 

Hartong is a complex and confusing vocalist, at times allowing his voice to soar in enigmatic style, but at others falling into a whiney drone that's reminiscent of Michael Stipe in the mid-1980's.  When You Find Out gets off to a lethargic start with "What We Need", a bland radio ballad for the lovelorn.  "God In Training" is memorable, transitioning from a rhythm-based acoustic arrangement in the verse to a Nirvana-like chorus.  The chorus itself is memorable and catchy.  "When You Find Out" is whiney acoustic pop and Breaking Laces come off sounding like a maudlin Maroon 5.  "Shopping For Two" waxes poetic on the little joys of being in a relationship.  The song is catchy and sweet without veering into saccharine.  

"Here To Stay" is a solid, mid-tempo love song reminiscent of a cross between Maroon 5 and Air Supply.  While a decent listen, the syrupy love song motif is carried a bit too far on the album in general.  "Angeline" finds the band going electric for an angst-filled, mid-tempo rocker that rages about getting kicked out.  There's an almost passive-aggressive anger present here that works surprisingly well.  Breaking Laces play their way through the self-indulgent power ballad "Bone Dry", and the bland "This World" and "Carry On" before fading out with the bland, middle-of-the-road pop of "I Do I Don't". 

"When You Find Out" certainly has its good moments, but a full length album might have been a stretch.  Breaking Laces has a mighty fine EP scattered throughout the album, but there's too much filler for the project to be cohesive as a full-length.  It sounds as if, seven years on, Breaking Laces are still trying to figure out just who they are.  That search can be beautiful, ugly, exciting and boring in turns.  This aptly describes "When You Find Out".

Rating: 3 Stars (Out of 5)

Learn more about Breaking Laces at www.breakinglaces.com or www.myspace.com/breakinglaces.  When You Find Out drops May 17, 2011.   You can order it now from Amazon.com as either a CD or Download.