When we spoke to Broods about their second album, their mission statement for Conscious was quite clear: make songs that sound great in a live environment, and let people know via the title that every move on this one has been a lot more calculated in view of that.
The good news is that these songs just as good on record as they do in a live setting – there’s no doubt that the NZ siblings are still on top form here. Kicking off with the pounding beats of Free, Georgia Nott sounds exactly that as she cuts loose with no fucks given. Following that there’s a veritable embarrassment of joyous hooks and choruses, from We Had Everything to Are You Home, with Caleb’s production punctuating his sister’s vocals in a way most duos just can’t touch.
The very minor bad news, however, is that those calculations do seem very obvious across the marathon run of tracks – it’s an argument that you can levy towards glassy synth-pop in general, but given that Broods mined the more profound areas of the genre on their debut there does seem to be a tiny degree of heart missing in all the sheen (there’s nothing as intense as Medicine, for example). Attempts on ballads like Freak of Nature and All Your Glory are marred by lines like “days of darkness make me smile/ no one’s safe here for a while”, though that’s easily rescued by Georgia’s genuinely affecting delivery and slow layers of beats and piano to supplement it.
A minor quibble, then, but any fatigue across the track-length is balanced by the ridiculously consistent quality of their output. Of course, there’s much chatter about the Lorde co-write Heartlines, but it doesn’t match up to the duo in their own comfort zone – it’s hard to imagine another act delivering a chorus like Recovery and following it up with the instant-win beats of Couldn’t Believe. Maybe the likes of CHVRCHES, actually, but that shows you what kind of act Broods are becoming – where the former are filling stadia, in a just world it should only be a matter of time before these Conscious moves allow the latter to do the same.