I’ve never heard a record out of Great Britain sound so relentlessly Californian. I’ve never heard Londoners sing about sunshine quite so sincerely. After the opening song on Turin Brakes’ JackInABox, I was convinced that they had to be from L.A. or even San Diego, or possibly Hawaii. It’s that same mellow, Jack Johnson vibe–it’s referred to as “inner-city folk music” in the press kit, but I’d call it folky pop.
I say pop because even though many of the songs are very simple ballads with just a bit of guitar and basic drums (their drummer doesn’t even get equal billing), Turin Brakes don’t have even a touch of country soul. Their high voices harmonize well, occasionally sounding Beatlesy but without that je ne sais quoi that makes everyone in the world still obsessed with the Fab Four.
There are vaguely uplifting, pseudo-deep sentiments trailing all over the album. “Me and My Girl Gonna Make it if We Try,” fades into “Let’s Go Fishing for a Dream,” which trails into the only genuinely touching song on the album, “Road to Nowhere.” The cliché title masks a ballad of the loss of a father that flicks heartstrings far more than bland “life isn’t always easy” sentiment.
No, Turin Brakes, life isn’t always easy. But your record certainly feels that way. Easy to listen to, easy not to think about much. Good background music, headnodding driving music when you’ve got things on your mind and don’t want songs to break into your stream of consciousness. But when I tried to wrap my mind around them critically, it was impossible to cling to more than gossamer threads.