Returning for their third record, Glasgow’s State Broadcasters have teased this record as a ‘modern day sophisti-pop record’ showcasing a “more playful, upbeat side of the band” and for the first half of the record this is mostly true.
The follow up to their 2009 debut The Ship and the Iceberg, and its 2012 follow up, the darker Ghosts We Must Carry, is a record that tries on everyone’s clothes – Teenage Fanclub’s buttoned down power-pop shirt on the summer evening jam of ‘I Will Sing With Ya’; King Creosote’s rain-lashed greatcoat on the mournful ‘Folding’; the glossy sheen of Dear Catastrophe Waitress era Belle and Sebastian on ‘Feelin’ Alive’.
Even when ‘Crap Village’ is bursting to life with cheesy eighties keys, just one notch short of ‘Video Killed the Radio Star’, there’s the sense that each track is part of a wider project, serving to highlight a different facet of the whole.
Best of all is the surprisingly touching, brass assisted ‘Cycle Home Drunk’ which perfectly captures the moment when you know you need to be there for someone and you’ll do anything to make that happen
With an array of sounds that serve as both an evocation of nostalgia and a knowing critique, there’s a sense that despite their disparate styles and influences there’s a sense of a common project here and it lends the record a thoughtful feel despite its more outré stylings.
Having rattled through six distinct sounds in the first six tracks, the group take their foot off the gas with the mostly forgettable ‘Brace Against the Cold’ and the fussy and synthetic ‘Girls from the Catholic School’.
Thankfully they’re back to their most emotionally affecting on ‘Let the Wolves Roam’, which features strings and a spoken word section reminiscent of Idlewild’s ‘Scottish Fiction’ lifted from an old piece about crofting, while the Gillian Fleetwood-led ‘Ribbons’ is a fragile piano ballad that closes the record on a melancholic note.
A Different Past comes with a manifesto; the band telling us to “embrace the world we live in today rather than revisiting and revising memories of our youth and trying to convince ourselves it really was all great fun,” with State Broadcasters, at least you’ll know there is always something fresh and new around the corner.
Words: Max Sefton