“I just don’t listen to music. Music is not the drive or inspiration behind what we’re doing. It’s mathematical problem-solving. What we’re trying to achieve is the same sort of thing as an accountant, but with sound instead of maths.” These are the words of Olly Knights, Turin Breaks vocalist on how the band approaches making music. Upon deciding the band’s name; they merely “plucked it (Turin Breaks) out of the air.” The 2001 Mercury Music Prize nominees return with their eighth studio album, Invisible Storm.
The first twenty seconds of the album opener, Would You Be Mine shows promise. Your path crosses an elated tension one finds in a well-written science fiction novel; as if one is on the cusp of finding out if the landed alien life forms are friends or foes. Regretfully, Would You Be Mine develops into a predictable, mediocre 1980’s backdrop. The quirkiness of the trumpets is all to mute, undeveloped and brief to create any impact.
Many of the tracks across Invisible Storm make a significant departure from Turin Brakes signature new acoustic movement sound which they gained notoriety for with The Optimist LP and Ether Song. Whilst the sounds produced are not intolerable and don’t risk becoming infamous, they are largely ineffectual and don’t encourage active listening; quickly becoming forgotten background music. For example, Lost in the Wood sounds like a mediocre Fleetwood Mac covers band version of Dreams. Track seven, Invisible Storm, despite promising new adventures as a “sound of underground” track; the finished product is closer to a teen pop ballad reminiscent of James Morrison’s Broken Wings. Tomorrow feels too much like a tribute to The Script.
Nonetheless, all is not lost, Wait, which has an uncanny resemblance to Outcasts Hey Ya! is a jovial up-tempo song that mixes well with Turin Breaks more traditional sound. Everything All At Once is instantly catchy, gritty with a deep bass (for Turin Breaks) and shows successful innovation. Smoke and Mirrors bring surprises, it builds continuously into a beautiful cacophony of sounds with an orchestra, distinguished piano and bells. Smoke and Mirrors could have easily been a theme to have built Invisible Storm upon.
Deep Sea Diver has all the elements of a classic Turin Brakes song. What could easily have turned out to be banal, guarantees the listener to take note; awakening and rousing the senses. Whilst Invisible Storm did not open to expectations; it finishes triumphantly with Don’t Know Much. As with Deep Sea Diver, Turin Brakes go back to basics. Despite the familiarity, it awakens the listener, provoking a revisit to existential questions such as the meaning of life and concepts of a deity and ignorance about the world people live in. From wanting the album to end after the first minute; the listener is left craving for more.
The musical relationship between Olly Knights and Gale Paridjanian is strong and goes back to childhood (both singing in the same cathedral choir together for five years). The band feel at ease and harmonious as if in a collective. You feel as if they genuinely enjoyed the entire songwriting and recording process of Invisible Storm. Despite some miscalculations on this album, Turin Breaks on Invisible Storm have still maintained their reputation as an original innovative indie band with acclaimed live rapport.