One woman’s tears is a hipster generation’s retro-exuberant joy, if the official story of how the LA duo Broken Baby – wunderkind newcomer Amber Bollinger and rock vet/producer Alex Dezen (The Damnwells) – is believable beyond marketing hype. Embodying the feisty, shouty, attitude-driven talk-sing that those of us were there in the 80s loved then and can certainly embrace now, Bollinger says she “cried a lot” when the duo went into the studio to work on the self titled full length follow up to their 2017 debut EP. “We mostly wore pajamas the whole time.”
That’s vulnerability, comfort and confidence, baby, and their raw, propulsive intensity invites us to their quirky, erotic and deliciously atonal “Personality Party” where they rumble more melodically as they kindly ask us to “Pass the Acetone.” But there’s seriously no mistaking, as the duo lets us know emphatically with one of their singles, that “It’s My Show!” When Bollinger sings “Fill my glass to the rim with a shit Bordeaux,” she means business. Inconsistent though it may be as they dart rambunctiously from offbeat mantra-like talk shout to dreamy melodic vocal textures, the swirl of electronic instruments and raw propulsive grooves – not to mention the clever phrases and crafty storytelling – is first rate cool.
These two are not afraid to get in the face of those their songs address, whether it’s “Hello from the Other Side of Hell No” or “Why Don’t We Do Anything Fun”? (Maybe because they’re making music other people can have a blast with instead?). Despite the punkiness and brevity of the tunes, there are a lot of layers to plow through here to figure out just where they’re coming from. So it’s nice of Bollinger to give us a clue: “We want to make music that exorcises the demons.”
When you finish listening through the first time, you’ll notice all the demons of 2018 are gone and you’re back in the 80’s where The Pretenders, The Jesus Lizard and Eurythmics are swirling around you like protective angels. These babies may be broken but they are broken so that we may come together!