Don Broco – ‘Amazing Things’

By Aaron Jackson

Every Don Broco album has seemed to improve on the last. The Japanese term “kaizen” describes perpetual development for the better and this perfectly denotes the band’s journey since their inception back in 2008. ‘Amazing Things’ doesn’t just follow suit and continue the trend, it shatters all expectations in the best way possible.

Live takes can be seen across a series of studio update videos on YouTube that document the recording process of the album. With the first instalment being published back in November 2020, these video diaries have not only been an intriguing insight into what it takes to produce an album, but they’ve also been a nice form of escapism for a population bound by lockdown. With 29 episodes available at the time of writing, and a bonus mini-series called Come Dine With Broco, these musicians do a stellar job of including their audience as a key part of their creative process.

The activity on YouTube is just one component of what has been an overall excellent album release campaign. With ‘Amazing Things’, Don Broco have provided a true case study in how to creatively and effectively promote an album and, in turn, the band as a whole. The first taste came with lead single ‘Manchester Super Reds No.1 Fan’ which featured a music video starring David Beckham (well, sort of). Following this premiere, the band dropped their own football kits and even showed off vintage-style football stickers for each member. If that wasn’t enough, they then went and duped everyone by convincing fans that front man Rob Damiani had been training as a boxer and would be live-streaming his debut fight, only to premiere the video for the album’s second single ‘Gumshield’.

Primarily, Don Broco’s dynamic continues to mature and expand in terms of textures and layering. As is so often the case, the foremost layer for the majority of the record is the vocals and, where 2018’s ‘Technology’ saw a notable increase in contribution from drummer Matt Donnelly, ‘Amazing Things’ isn’t far off a 50/50 split between him and Damiani. Particularly involved on ‘Swimwear Season’, the more delicate stylings of Donnelly gorgeously juxtapose, yet entirely compliment Damiani’s trademark croon.

Their most complete and impressive song to date, ‘One True Prince’ is not only another perfect example of how effective Don Broco’s approach to vocals is, but it also demonstrates just how far the band have come. Simply put, this song is nothing short of epic. The closest thing that Don Broco had released until this point is ‘Further’ from ‘Automatic’ in 2015 which is, in its own right, an exemplary display of mature songwriting combined with expertly proficient instrumental performances. However, ‘One True Prince’ takes these principles and improves on them in every area, even including a key change to die for near the end.

Despite their clear eye for canny marketing and seemingly perpetual rise in profile, these boys from Bedford still refuse to take themselves too seriously. The heaviest and most eyebrow-raising song on this record that is already so full of twists and turns is titled ‘Bruce Willis’. The blend of crushing riffs, vocals that switch from gritty to saccharine without a moment’s notice and an infectious refrain of Willis’ iconic “yippee-ki-yay” line from Die Hard makes for a fascinating experience. Don Broco are by no means a joke band, but they certainly haven’t lost touch with the fundamentally entertaining aspect of listening to music.

In fact, particularly across recent efforts, Broco are consistently striking the balance between producing fun music that operates as a vehicle for socio-political commentary. Notably so, ‘Uber’ tackles the band’s anger towards racism and the shock that people are able to so openly express their bigoted views. In a video posted to Twitter, Damiani tells of how the band experienced three separate drivers in the US do just that. In the clip, he explains that ‘Uber’ is a reminder for himself to call out that discrimination whenever he sees it. The lyrics are delivered with venom and the message rings loud and clear: “I’ve been dealing with the driver who’s sorry for my lot, ‘cause my country got us mixing our blood and it’s boiling his blood and that’s boiling my blood. He won’t shut the fuck up”.

Aggression is at the core of ‘Amazing Things’ and listeners could quickly draw comparisons with the likes of Deftones, Enter Shikari and Loathe to name just a few. Every song, bar the more downbeat ‘Anaheim’ and ‘How Are You Done With Existing?’, has a riff that hits to the very core. Emphatically dispatched by guitarist Si Delaney with his axe tuned down to god-knows-what, the most recent single ‘Endorphins’ is a particularly interesting song. In parts reminiscent of drum and bass club music, and a chorus with familiar pop sensibilities, Delaney manages to somehow make this one of the heaviest songs on the record. Microcosmic of the album as a whole, it’s impossible to shoehorn this track into any one category, and that’s a notion that should be commended and celebrated.

To build on the topic of influences, particularly that of Deftones, there are other cheeky little winks to late ‘90s/early ‘00s Nu-Metal scattered throughout the album. For example, ‘Bad 4 Ur Health’ sees Don Broco flirting with Limp Bizkit/Linkin Park-esque record scratches which pose the question as to whether this could be the advent of a revival of sorts. Tongue in cheek, but only loosely; there are plenty of raw and lo-fi segments (usually bedded in by bassist Tom Doyle) in ‘Amazing Things’ that stand out to great effect amongst what is ultimately a sophisticated and advanced record.

‘Easter Sunday’ is a fine closer that aptly punctuates a truly unique piece that shatters genre tropes and traditional approaches to what qualifies as a rock album. It’s true that various delays outside of the band’s control meant that the road to releasing this album wasn’t necessarily a smooth one and it would be a huge shame if this was to dent the record getting the mainstream recognition that it so blatantly deserves. With ‘Amazing Things’, not only are Don Broco releasing a record that is more than worthy of swatting aside any chart competition, they’ve also produced their greatest album to date. Regardless of the accolades it may or may not accrue, ‘Amazing Things’ is an outstanding feat of musicianship from a band that refuse to slow down or show any inkling of regression. Do not miss this.

AARON JACKSON

Three more album reviews for you

Like Pacific - 'Control My Sanity'

LIVE: Rise Against @ PRYZM, Kingston

LIVE: Sleep Token @ Shepherd's Bush Empire, London