@ The Cockpit, Leeds
Listening to their marvellously concise second album, I formed a picture of Brakes being a band of song-deconstructivists, sculpting with song form, cutting and pasting in an intense and serious manner. Perhaps a bunch of young art school lads, hyped into stress-bunnies. What I saw tonight was a chatty group, relaxed about their tunes and up for a laugh. The lead singer took time to introduce the band, with the brothers on guitar and bass, as well as introducing most of the songs and cracking a joke or two. It went down well with this near-capacity crowd made up of twenty and thirty-somethings. And it is the lead singer who spends his time in the spotlight, while the guitar lurks in the shadows and the bass wanders back and forth. The songs are the stars – each fully formed though short. Each says what it has to say then goes. And there’s no value for money law that says longer is better – I’d take some of these micro-wonders over some sprawling and boring alternative from a lesser band. Some of the songs are as short as the closing 10-second ‘Karma Ka Ka’. Others as splendidly daft as the sub-sixty second 'Porcupine Or Pineapple', the arrival of which is signalled by a pineapple arriving on stage before being gently tossed into the crowd. Ouch! “Spikey Spikey!”
Through the wonders of computers I lost all but the last paragraph after chucking out my gig-going notes. Now, weeks later, I remember a brief set full of fun and imagination. It never got boring and I was left wanting more. The range was further into country music than hinted at by the second album and I felt like the band were really getting a buzz of each other. It was the sort of thing that makes me look out for a return visit. Brakes are more than a clever assemblage of artful noise, they are on a mission to bring smiles through witty, intelligent composition.