Back in 2001, the world was a strange place. The internet was still young, and music was adjusting to the changing landscape of media. England’s Turin Brakes were a victim of their times. Turin Brakes’ first full length album, 2001’s The Optimist LP, tried to fit in. It had a hidden track, as well as a bonus video if you put the disc into your personal computer. All the markings of an album released in 2001, trying to sell itself to a new generation and a new century.
Sonically speaking, Turin Brakes are also out of place. They were, and continue to be, a band out of time – not quite fitting into the 21st century. Their song craft perhaps belongs to a bygone era, or a possibly more gentle and idyllic future. Olly Knights and Gale Paridjanian are the primary song writers, singers, and guitarists. They work well together and continue to do so to this day, with more than a dozen studio LPs, EPs and live albums recorded over the last 16 or so years.
Turin Brakes’ song craft is one of simple seduction, disguised by subtle production. The acoustic guitars and voices harmonize easily and effortlessly over breathy melodies. But don’t be fooled, you will not be lulled to sleep, there’s just enough tempo to give these folk songs a bit of an edge. And there are enough surprisingly international flavors, including Latin and Indian, to keep you interested. The lyrics are descriptive and clear, but also cryptic and poetic enough to keep you guessing.
The album starts and stops smoothly as the band pumps the brakes gently. You will not be offended or shocked at any point in time while listening to this album, but you probably also won’t rush out and tell your friends about how much you like it. Turin Brakes’ The Optimist LP is worth a listen and might be worth adding to your collection if you don’t like a challenge.