Bracken scores a respectful 7.4 review On Pitchfork today. We Know About The Need starts shipping to stores next monday (January 22nd) and officially streets on January 30th.
We Know About the Need
Born as a sort of ramshackle folk act, peddling lo-fi ennui à la Sebadoh, the Leeds quartet Hood evolved surprisingly into a post-rock act. And their recent work, peaking on 2001's Cold House, took another startling turn, toward Anticon's glitchy hip-hop aesthetic. This abiding sense in Hood's work of the pastoral slowly giving way to technology is mirrored in band member Chris Adams' one-off solo project, Bracken.
Adams drew an analogy between producing We Know About the Need and assembling flat-pack furniture. "A lot of square pegs," he admitted, "end up being forced into round holes." His approach gives the record a charming incoherence. Adams riffs on his old band's signature sounds: the drone ("Evil Teeth", "La Monte Lament"), the hiccuping futurism ("Safe Safe Safe", "Many Horses"), and textures you can swim in ("Heathens"). What marks We Know is a pronounced dubstep vibe, a haunting emphasis on the low-key and the low end.
"Of Athroll Slains" announces this emphasis, resting on its moody, clattering rhythms, as Adams sings with a halting delivery that unfurls into sleepy melisma. It's as close to a disembodied voice as it gets. He perfects the mixture of atmosphere and dub thump on lead single "Heathens". The density of the sound-- a soup of horns, organs, guitars, reverb-soaked vocals-- makes the song sound like screwed-and-chopped background noise. But in a good way. There are untold details to sift through, melodies to follow, in the washes of pirate-radio static.
For every person bored to tears by dubstep, 100 are bored by drone. Yet Adams' flirtations with willful monotony always leave something for the ear: the lushly Gregorian "Music for Adverts"; the drum solos and humming cello of "Evil Teeth"; the quivering, unbroken tone of "La Monte Lament". These forays into stillness work as well as their can't-stand-still foils, from the fluid and urban musique concrète of "Fight or Flight" to the twitches of nervous digitalism on "Many Horses", humanized by the clarinet and piano. They manage to be warm and icy, mechanical and natural, at the same time.
Not until we round back to the closing track "Back on the Calder Line" does the repetition start to tire, as Adams attempts to recreate the anomie-laden majesty of "Heathens", building on glacial beats, his ghostly phrasing, and fingerpicked notes. Nevertheless, We Know About the Need emerges as a slippery, engrossingly genreless take on the old theme of desolation in the city.
-Roque Strew, January 19, 2007