Songs For The Broken Hearted is the debut album by serac. There is a lot of REM and Nick Drake influence thrown in throughout which fuses well together. Overall, the production on the album is quite busy, obscuring some of the songs that exist within.
The best song on the album is “Close My Eyes” which is the only one performed solo acoustic. Here, the voice and lyrics have room to stretch and find themselves and use the space to fill in the sound. Other songs that stand out include “Time Will Tell” which swirling organs and a Pink Moon-ish vibe and “Too Late For Us Now” which is an up tempo rocker. “Lost” could be an outtake from mid ‘80s REM with Michael Stipe-ish vocal inflections and Mike Mills-ish harmonies.
Other songs end up being too busy with guitar lines and drums shoving their way to the front. The organ ostinado on “The Moon and The Star” ends up being so constant and upfront, it’s hard to hear the lush harmonies that exist underneath. Other times cellos and perhaps violas lack intonation and distract from the rest of the songs. Songs like “Misunderstood’ all have good parts between electric piano and electric guitar with magnificent tones but hearing them always at once takes away from letting them coexist within the song and support it.
In general the harmony vocals really are the saving grace on the album, filling up the space with a haunting lushness that equally finds its way to blend into the organ as much as the lead vocal. They lend a lot of support and elevate the dynamics of certain sections. The lead vocals are good moving between the aforementioned Nick Drake and Michael Stipe within their influences. Unfortunately some of them don’t have the same dynamic as the rest of the band, not rising to the energy of the rest of the band (perhaps as a result of being recorded before the rest of the band was recorded).
The album closes with the anthemic “Break Your Heart” which builds really nicely adding in drums and competing guitar lines. It’s a nice well-developed ending, and is a technique that would be nice to have been applied to the preceding twelve songs in giving them more development. The songs are nice folk songs and when they have that space to stretch and breathe, they really shine.
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