THE BROKEN VIEW: On the Mend (2021)
The Broken View is a band from upstate New York, whose first EP, Something Better, came out in 2019. I did a short review and interview with them then and we talked about the songwriting process and formation of the band with frontman Austin Kranick and drummer/songwriter Tyler Shoemaker. Writing and recording through the pandemic, the band just released their first full album, On the Mend. I took the opportunity to get back in touch with them and discuss the new album and how the writing and recording was different this time around.
The album opens with “Reverie”, an intro song that starts quietly and builds. At the end of the song, the melody and chorus for “On the Mend” is introduced under Austin’s vocals of “Stay” from that later song. This song then leads into the title track. Austin said: “On the Mend is a song about breaking a consistent cycle of generational addiction. It's about the fear of not knowing the amount of self-destructive choices you're capable of making to your physical and/or mental health and whether or not it's truly hereditary or fully determined on how you choose to live your life. For me, it's the ladder and the lyrics ‘Before I write myself into final decimation, I'll retrace this life under sober, empty skies’, is an affirmation to one's self that before those choices lead you to the point of no return, you will recognize the problems for what they are and accept help in any form it arrives without hesitation and never be ashamed of who you are or where you come from.”
“On the Mend” was released as a single ahead of the album release, as was both “You and Me Now” and “Start Over”. These are the tentpole songs on the album and reflect the band’s slightly different, evolved sound that stems from time together in the writing process and developing as a band. I asked about this, and Austin said: “There was never really a conversation about tone or how the songs would sound, we just want to feel something profound from the music we make and hope that our fans do too. Tyler really made the songs stand out with these massive mixes and we were completely blown away. The atmosphere, the drums and just all of it really helped us convey the message behind the songs, on tracks like "Start Over", "You're Not Alone", and "Leave Love Out of It", to name a few.”
“Not the One” has some of the anger behind it in the vocals that I felt in their earlier songs like “Something Better”. That having been said, the songs still have a strong level of emotion, but in a different way. Instead of that passion stemming from anger from earlier songs, instead many of these songs reflect a vulnerability, which Austin also commented on: “The songs here are much more vulnerable. They are incredibly honest and when writing the lyrics, I felt like I was saying all the things I either wish I could have said at a time, or that I wish I never said at all. That's a feeling we were confident everyone's had to have felt at some point in their life and we only hope these songs can inspire people to be true to who they are and to know their worth. We are with our fans through it all and they are the reason we do this.”
I also asked about how the band approached writing a full album: “The writing process was certainly different this time around. During the lockdown, I just kept writing but initially for a solo project. I wasn't sure how to approach the new album without being in the same space as Tyler, so I didn't even try, apart from a couple of FaceTime writing sessions with him, which ended up being the opening track to the album, "Reverie". Eventually, we were left with a bunch of demos I made that sounded pretty different from our sound all together but we loved them so much that we knew we had to make it work. At first, it was a little difficult for me to hear the songs change quite drastically from what I had originally, but it was very much worth it in the end. I wouldn't have it any other way and we are very proud of each and every second of this record. We also brought on John Lombardi as our lead guitarist during that time and he definitely helped get certain songs to where we needed them. Specifically, "Does It Make You Happy" had a completely different tone, tempo, and key when I originally wrote it and after our first practice with John, I just had a feeling that he was the right person with the right skills on how to help me in essentially, reimagining the song completely. We couldn't be happier with how it all turned out and he's been a very good friend and bandmate to us ever since.”
Another highlight of the album is “Stay”, teased during the intro in “Reverie” and appearing in the latter half of the record. The song features Clara Adelaide as a guest vocalist. Austin said, “Clara is not currently in a band but she is a close friend of ours and an incredibly talented vocalist. Her voice was exactly what we were looking for when we began the recording process for "Stay". The song is like an argument between two people at the inevitable end of their relationship, abruptly ensuing from feelings of mistrust, due to past trauma and how they externalize that onto one another in an unhealthy way. The lyrics came from a very personal place and Clara had a really strong grasp of the concept and how to convey those emotions.” The combination of both their voices and some strong lead guitar underneath make for a truly powerful song that I could see being a future single.
The album moves toward a positive message, such as the lyric “You’re lonely/But you’re not alone” in the powerful “You’re Not Alone”. The acoustic “Does It Make You Happy” builds into a strong penultimate ballad. Like some of their previous songs, specifically “Something Better”, Austin is able to weave lyrics into interesting melodies; the chorus here is “And I feel it/Just like an endless dream that I long to nullify/I’m bleeding/You’re unaffected inside this space I can’t define/I’ve waited/And all the while I can only see you in the light/That I want you to see me/And does it make you happy”. The final song “Leave Love Out of It” feels like one of the more vulnerable songs on the album, both lyrically and in Austin’s vocals. It closes the album strongly and, while being about saying goodbye, ends on a positive note.