Soaked in stoner rock fuzz and 1980s punk rock angst, Broken Baby’s eponymous new LP is effectively the most hard edged release of the year, but it also serves a much more important purpose in putting the band’s competitors and detractors alike on notice. Broken Baby isn’t looking to remain in the underground for long, and they state the obvious over the course of ten songs brilliantly arranged and produced with top-shelf care; they’re the heaviest band in California. Their next conquest takes their sound across the rest of the country, and they don’t plan on coming home emptyhanded.
Nothing about Broken Baby feels indebted to punk’s past, and in that I mean that they’re not trying to be a part of something that doesn’t actively exist anymore. This band isn’t trying to be Black Flag, because Black Flag already existed in died well before we reached this apex in punk rock history. Broken Baby actually make a point of rejecting the past, which in itself is the most punk rock thing that anyone could do (not to mention it goes a long way to setting them aside from their alternative rock contemporaries who view history as an outfit rather than an influence).
Plenty of these songs, from “Personality Party” to “It’s My Show!” could stand on their own as successful singles, but they also gel together in this format really well. I’ve always liked the idea of a band that didn’t spend a lot of time focusing on expansive records and trying to fill up 80 minutes’ worth of content, but Broken Baby’s full length is completely devoid of the sort of filler that led me to prefer EPs to LPs. The entire album plays out smoothly and can be repeated multiple times without beginning to tire or feel repetitive.
Broken Baby’s sound could be described as an undiluted combination of sexy, dangerous and gritty vibes constantly competing for superiority, but ironically I think it’s going to take all three elements to rescue rock n’ roll from the commercial integers who seek to render it completely unrecognizable to its diehard followers. Pretentiousness has run rampant in music lately, and I like that Broken Baby go out of their way to avoid any egomaniacal themes or subject matter. Their lyrics and attitude towards recording might be selfless, but one thing that they don’t get stingy with is riffage; any guitar freak is going to go crazy over this collection of jams.
Titles like breakout hit of the year are often thrown around a little more than I would prefer, but it would be criminal not to give Broken Baby’s new record the credit that it deserves for being just that. This band has got a lot of pickup in their rhythms and a sense of melody that is just complex enough to get millennials curious about their style, and just those two factors alone are enough to put them into some big conversations. This is just the beginning for Broken Baby, but what a beginning it really is.