Despite having heard them around a bit in the past, all I knew about Brakes when I received this album was that ‘The Beatific Visions’ was so good our glorious leader found it somewhat difficult to give up the album. Which I always consider to be a good sign.

And the opening track, ‘Hold Me In The River’ is no disappointment. It’s got the beat and a thick guitar fronting that grabbed hold of my ears right away. Kind of like Kings Of Leon with more electricity. ‘Margherita’ continues this sound, then ‘If I Should Die Tonight’ throws a curve ball by leaping feet-first into… a country ballad. Clever. And a mighty fine tune it is too.

‘Mobile Communications’ is in the recent Ryan Adams “Am I rock, country or MOR?” genre, then ‘Spring Chicken’ (a completely ludicrous but brilliant track) appears like having The Monster Mash in the middle of a Dylan album. Although ‘Porcupine or Pineapple’ does a good job of keeping it company, with inspired lyrics like: “Porcupine or Pineapple / Spiky Spiky!”

‘Beatific Visions’ could easily be a single and needs at least five listens to fully appreciate, with all of the musical layering and imagery going on, while ‘Cease And Desist’ is rock to head bang to.

It’s a powerful and varied 28 minutes, and it’ll leave you exhausted but stimulated. It’s so varied I challenge anyone to dislike every song. It’s just a shame that the running time’s so short. With most songs hovering around 2 minutes I can’t help feeling that the band could do with either laying down a few more tracks or getting into instrumental breaks. A genuinely exciting discovery.

Simon Middleyard