SCQ Rating: 86%
Is it wrong that as soon as I entered http://itstartshear.com – the website that is an album – and watched Broderick’s video introduction, I nearly closed the window without hearing a note? I mean, as compelling and relatable as Broderick’s reasoning may be for offering free access to his highly anticipated record (and in the form of an interactive website, no less), it’s disappointing to find oneself confronted on the homepage by an architect so regrettably caught up in his own eccentricities. Now even to me that last sentence reads as pretty insensitive – I don’t typically get personal with critiques on strangers – but it’s hard not to digest http://itstartshear.com (the website, anyway) as an intentionally personal diary when Broderick has detailed the explicit origin for each song before listeners have had a chance to absorb it on its own merits. As a reaction to illegal downloading, I suppose the website’s aim speaks for itself so c’mon – whatever happened to show, don’t tell.
Fans and newcomers can decide for themselves what to make of the website’s occasional bout of too-much-information but the music, purportedly at the centre of this project, proves far less divisive. In fact, http://itstartshear.com (the record) stands as one of the best things I’ve heard all year. Whether being sweet-talked by the tender orchestration surrounding “I Am Piano” or swallowed into “Asleep”’s slow-burning vortex of piano, found-sound clips, and electronics, it’s impossible to fault Broderick’s understanding of how to expand or conflict a composition for the benefit of a potent atmosphere. Some of these ten tracks communicate via weighty and intricate structures (“With the Notes In My Ears”), others grab at poignancy through largely acoustic means (“Blue”), but never does Broderick’s approach come off as heavy-handed for the sake of embellishing average song-fare. The title track, even, which can best be described as a welcome jingle to remember the website’s address key-for-key, draws the listener in for glimpses of an uncompromising genius peddling Broderick’s oddity.
And I do mean oddity, not audacity, since the vast majority of http://itstartshear.com operates as a creatively executed but ultimately traditional modern-folk record. In a business where artists market their idiosyncrasies, whether authentic or not, I’d reckon that aforementioned video should pretty much damn Broderick’s chances of coasting on image. Which is great, because beneath http://itstartshear.com’s plain charcoal sleeve lies some of the most gorgeously produced music anyone’s ears could be blessed with. The internet’s got nothing on this.