In their new song “Why Don’t We Do Anything Fun,” Californian punk syndicate Broken Baby rely on a bassline that slithers straight from the depths of hell and wraps the listeners in a thick coiling to demonstrate how unapologetically violent their brand of hard rock is. Scooped audio emphasizes the depth of their sonic palate, and while there’s a mist of raw treble hovering over the drums we never get washed away in its white noise. This track and nine others like it make up the whole of Broken Baby’s self-titled rookie full length album, which has become the surprise sleeper hit of 2018.
Artists who value melodic interpretation over literal themes take us to deeper levels of emotional connection than any other form of expression can. For most punk rock groups, melody takes a backseat to the expressed statement, but Broken Baby has delicately prioritized both in this collection of songs that vary in tempo, delivery and prose. There’s no overt agenda that we feel pressed upon us, but there’s also not a counterpoint there to suggest that Broken Baby is fighting against anything other than the boredom that utter silence induces. This world was made to rock n’ roll, and this band is just doing their part to see that it does so.
The three and a half minute dirge of “Are You Afraid?” borrows from rockabilly’s rollicking sway but doesn’t find itself running in circles by the time it comes to a conclusion. As I mentioned before, there’s a very abstract quality to vocalist Amber Bollinger’s lyrics that makes them very visual and multidimensional, and this track might capture her style of attack better than any other on the record. You could spend a lot of time dissecting the duality in her perspectives, or you could just enjoy her ability to keep up with the breakneck progression of the album’s flow (I myself did both).
Electro-pop fans will appreciate Broken Baby’s genre-bending “It’s My Show,” which leans heavily on mammoth synthesizers to create its wall of sound. It’s one of the more muted tracks on the record musically, but the chorus is straight up tailor made for today’s contemporary indie radio. The specialty/college format eats up eccentric rock albums like this one, and Broken Baby’s highly stylized sound comes during a period of inactivity in the American underground that has left disc jockeys scrambling to find a hot new beat.
This album offers us a glimpse into the sound of Broken Baby, who are a fairly new face in indie rock but stand to make some pretty stellar gains in the wake of this album’s success. Their next full length will likely show us a more clearly defined profile of their identity and who they really are, but this is a great teaser for all of the magic and mysticism that they plan to roll out of the studio in the years ahead. If it’s even half as mesmerizing as this record is, they’re in for a long and storied career.