South London acoustic duo Turin Brakes comes on all quiet, hushed and impossibly catchy. Olly Knights and Gale Paridjanian — two dashingly scruffy blokes — weave their voices with strummin’ and a handful of instruments acoustic duos usually throw in for color (cello, harmonica, bass, etc.) to create a seemingly effortless folk-rock display of angst and desperation. In fact, their harmonies and pre-hangover melodies seem both eerily familiar and deceptively intuitive. They team up like a couple of post-millennial Everly Brothers on “Feeling Oblivion” to sing “By the time/fear takes me over/will we still be rolling/and feeling oblivion.” You’re sucked into feeling undoubtedly comforted by the simultaneous emptiness of the open road going nowhere and that particular feeling when the chemicals aren’t doing anything anymore.
And that’s the opening cut: The fellas in Turin Brakes make busy, to paraphrase Mr. Cobain and remove much of his self-loathing, “missing the comfort in being sad.”
If Gomez wasn’t so busy mucking about with tubas, Beefheart records and pot in the garage (not that there’s anything wrong with that), they might be as quietly insinuating and hummable as Turin Brakes.
The quiet is comforting — like Neil Young sneaking into the city of pop in the Trojan horse of, say, Coldplay. In the chill-out tent, in the coffeehouse, as the opening act for the bigger rock group, Turin Brakes is that band you don’t want to like, but can’t deny. And there’s something else, too: They conjure a peculiar mixological habit. After digging into the dusty emotional backwater of The Optimist LP, I’m always better prepared for, and inevitably drawn to, Radiohead’s OK Computer. A lo-fi shadow of the cyborg-cerebral prog heroes? Something like that. It’s certainly desperate enough.
And any record that can keep the phrase “I panic at the quiet times” running sing-song through your head all day can’t be all that bad.
E-mail Chris Handyside at email@example.com.