By Liam Menzies (@blnkclyr)
Submergining you in post-rock drenched guitars from the get-go, Max De Hoogd’s solo project Broken Headset makes a few things immediately clear. Firstly, despite being from Belgium, many of the themes that his songs channel don’t get lost in translation with the aforementioned intro track Am I Goin’ Insane touching on vanity, envy and ambition as well as providing light social commentary on police and showbiz. This kind of smart song-writing, at least lyrically, stands out as being unique and varied.
That’s not to say the songs aren’t pleasant to listen to though: the album opener sounds just as broody as Brand New‘s Sowing Season, to which the track bears a lot of similarites to. There’s a lot of influences coursing through the veins of De Hoogd‘s music and, for the most part, it refines his sound rather than acts as a detriment.
Clocking in at just under forty minutes, Hoogd takes on an abundance of styles, embedding them with his own Belgian tang. Take Mahdawg for instance, a bare bone track instrumentally with a lone guitar and drum being the only thing De Hoogd uses, leaving the two part story he weaves to be the main attraction. Singing of nostalgia and denial, the song takes on a very lo-fi aesthetic with De Hoogd‘s vocals satisfyingly curling around his zesty guitar in the latter half.
If that didnt scratch your lo-fi itch then there’s Nostalgia, a purely instrumental track full of dreamy synths and gentle compressed horns that would fit perfectly into any 8-bit game. It all leaves a Crywank or Dandelion Hands taste in your mouth, one that is rather easy to swallow.
With the album revolving largely around change and how people react to it, it’s a shame that one of the LP’s flaws comes from that. Certain tracks, notably What I’m Gonna Do, feel a bit more bland compared to what comes before and after though, granted, it is different enough to help further diversify the palette of sounds Changements champions. In addition to this, it can sometimes feel like De Hoogd isn’t fully getting to be himself due to the influences being so heavy handed though, as we’ve discussed, some of the act’s best music comes from this.
Criticisms aside, De Hoogd pulls off a good job on his latest LP, giving his tales of reminiscence and denial a lot of life thanks to evokative vocal performances. Once again, the variety on display and the unapolegtic impact his influences have, which result in some of Broken Headset‘s best music, leads to Changements being well worth a listen, a dud track here or there aside. To paraphrase De Hoogd on the eponymous closing track, changes are bound to happen but thankfully on this LP, they don’t bring any pain or suffering.
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