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Broods Just Might Be the Next Big Thing in New Zealand Music

March 4th, 2014

Broods – Mercury Lounge – March 3, 2014

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Last night at Mercury Lounge you could have run directly into the future with the New Zealand band Broods making their debut New York City appearance. Two of the vice presidents for alternative and Top 40 radio promotion from Capitol Music Group stood in the back, almost unavoidable if also hidden in plain sight. Representing the two pathways forward for the band—alternative radio and heavy-rotation at Top 40—a Capitol signee at the close of last year, these two wizards of the radio dial likely control as much of the group’s future as a major commercial act as the duo themselves. It was hard to avoid this sense of becoming from a group that by virtue of sharing producer Joel Little, Oceania and a digital snare drum, recall something of the mercurial, stupefying success of Lorde.

R&B aesthetics in alternative circles may well be a bubble, but Capitol has already doubled down on brother-sister-act Broods. Although for the 200 new converts packing the room, theirs was a different sort of business, a chance to buy low on—to buy intimacy from—a band seemingly about to head for your radio dial and living room. This was like listening to Chvrches in Glasgow two years ago or Lorde in Brooklyn last spring. Everyone arrived chasing some form of the future. Broods opened with “Never Gonna Change,” Georgia Nott’s vocals oozing fecundity if not outright sex, a mixture of footnotes from Dido to Imogen Heap. The sound registered somewhere between the aforementioned Ella Yelich-O’Connor and James Blake—slow-dance music for kids who hate to slow dance. Broods moved through “Pretty Thing” and “Sleep Baby Sleep,” the first owing much to Moby’s Play, the second featuring stirring vocals that would easily be at home on No Angel.

The closing movement of the set, a pithy eight songs, was highlighted by “Taking You There” (think: Avicii’s “Wake Me Up filled up with cold medicine), “Coattails,” another Dido-indebted jam, and “Bridges,” the song that earned the Capitol Records signing. “Coattails” featured the lyric of the evening, “a hit between the eyes,” before the whirring downbeat engaged, one of those literal and figurative direct hits that lays the foundation for buildings like Capitol’s 5th Avenue headquarters. Despite only one more day in America, Nott said they loved it here and would return. The feeling proved mutual, this much was obvious. Nott and the audience were both right, the set closed with a quiet new number, the future lying inside for a moment before it moved out there to Houston Street and into the American commercial night. —Geoff Nelson