Breaking State is the follow-up album to last year’s highly awaited debut album Part 2 from Brix and the Extricated, released by Grit Over Glamour. The cover art features an iconic animation designed by Rufus Dayglo the renowned comic book illustrator responsible for the likes of Tank Girl, 2000AD, Gorillaz, Judge Dredd and the Ramones. Having toured extensively in the last year they are all guns blazing determined to move away from the impact of the Fall and it seems to be working.
Track one Alaska is a stand-out track with its thumping bassline from Steve Hanley (one half of the Hanley brothers’ duo, Paul, on drums being the other half). The rhythm section, as always is tight and thumping with twisty guitar melodies from Steve Trafford and Jason Brown. The chorus is sassy and reminiscent of Siouxsie and the Banshee’s Israel. The lyrics are dark as Brix Smith-Start growls out: I’m alone out here, total blackout in Alaska, the sum of all my fears” it’s a great start.
H.C. is snarling with further riffs and melodies that the band are so fluent at. It’s full of Blondie vibes and punk attitude. I like the way the tempo drops down around two minutes in too, there is a method in this defiance. The guitar and bassline fire right through the spine of Dog Face and demonstrates the band’s ability to create some well-fashioned songs. Prime Numbers is punchy and breakneck with vague remnants of the Fall.
Halfway in and American Skies comes as a complete surprise. Gone is the wrath in Brix’s vocal. Here it’s as smooth as honey in a track that brings to mind a Spaghetti Western meets Midnight Cowboy with galloping drums and strings (arranged by Sarah Brandwood-Spencer) that complement and contribute to the diversity in the album.
Vanity still continues a Western-sounding theme with dark, Voodoo undertones and a brooding guitar line to match. Sleazebag is all brashness and funky rap, reminding me of early Chili Peppers. Going Strong is a battle-cry. It’s an I Will Survive for a new generation. I’m not going quietly, I’m going strong…I don’t love you anymore, I’ve slammed and locked the temple door. I’ve thrown away the key…I am extricated! The final song Unrecognisable summarises the whole album. It’s a moving on to pastures new with its powerful lyrics Never give up…never put up… I am holding my ground, good can be found…disinfecting myself ‘cause I’m poisoned by you.
Breaking State proves they are not just regurgitating Fall songs. Brix and co have come through some hard times, both professionally and personally but this sees them metamorphosis from the ashes and echoes of the Fall into something new and of their own. They’ve steered their own ship to provide a rocking, album full of defiance and emotional depth with flair and integrity.