Brakes have come a long way since their gloriously ramshackled 2005 debut Give Blood. It lurched from one genre to the next with many songs coming in at well under the 2 minute mark. It was like a sonic sketch pad. Throughout the following Beatific Visions they added more meat to these bones and now they are certainly a mightier beast. The obvious change is that only 3 of the songs here are under 2 minutes and none beat the 7 second record held by the debut. But thankfully this change is merely cosmetic and though each song is longer the sentiment is still pretty much the same.
Thematically this album is as disparate as ever with each song appearing to have been born out of absolute circumstance. Delirious recording hours seems to have provided the setting for the crazy Don't Take Me To Space (Man) while Do You Feel The Same was recorded at the time of the financial crash when everyone was predicting the end of capitalism. So I guess what I'm saying is that much of this album is made up of ideas that seemed good at the time, and on the whole they were and still are.
Musically things have leveled out slightly. We don't get the stark contrast of bluegrass country jutting up against hard as nails punk ferocity as much as we did on the debut. It's more like country-rock dovetailing into punk-rock. With ex Delgado Paul Savage behind the production desk Touchdown is a more consistent rock record. The songs are perfectly formed ideas with everything you'd want from a rock song. Opener Two Shocks is the perfect example. It's slow to build and then with expert timing unveils itself to you with profound muscle unlike anything delivered by this band before. It's an opener that makes you step back and admire proudly the grownup standing in front of you. The same can be said for Crush On You and Oh! Forever. Looking at these three you just want to say patronizingly, "Haven't you guys grown, I've known you since you were this long."
There are still ample indications that this band hasn't totally matured, the best being Red Rag. The joint shortest at 1.33 minutes this song has all the snarl of previous 30 second sucker punches but borrows much from its older brothers that surround it here and plays out as a hard piece of feral rock. It's probably the best moment on the record and one that makes me glance back to the good ol' days of fun loving punk sketch books. Touchdown still possesses all these eccentricities but with all its mightier, stronger and better songs I can't help feeling the loss of something special. It's ever so slightly duller than before, but at the same time way better. Go figure.