After a five-year absence, The Broken Heartbreakers are back with How We Got To Now – and listeners who enjoyed the achingly beautiful self-titled record back in 2007 or Wintersun in 2010 will find just as much to pore over with this album. 
While not what you would call ‘upbeat’, How We Got To Now definitely has some catchy, poppy numbers; ‘Swipe Card Valley’ has a peppy guitar solo after the very-singable chorus, while ‘Breaking Branches’ sounds almost sunny. 
​But the songs are often deeply personal, with sweetly sung melodies masking what are often rather cutting lyrics.
“We know the softest parts to stick the knife into / But I believe in me and you” Rachel Bailey (guitars, vocals) sings in ‘Breaking Branches’ – in juxtaposition to the laid back feel of the drums and bass (Jeff Harford, Richard Pickard). The opening track has John Guy Howell ​(vocals, guitar, piano) singing “My Sense of Wonder is under attack again”​, before Bayley sings angelicly over the top.
Sometimes you get to the middle of a record and you know what the next five tracks are going to be like. The Broken Heartbreakers mess with the method; ‘Somebody Please’ has a beautiful and haunting acappella intro, before it launches into a grimy guitar riff and into lines like “I’ve been drinking all night since the devil reformed”.  Or the spoken narration of ‘More Than Most’, set to punchy drums and jangly, summery guitar.
With music that’s in turns melancholy and mischievous, they’re not afraid of taking a break from the usual fare (relationships, love) to dip into the political; as they say on their website, ​their work throws some “well-aimed barbs at the socioeconomic wasteland of the neoliberal era”, which is music to my ears (maybe not everyones). 
It would be impossible to review this album without mentioning the passing of Sam Prebble, from Bond Street Bridge, who was a collaborator with the band. His memory echoes in the back of some of these songs – ‘Melody in H’ or ‘When You Don’t Have Your People’. The Broken Heartbreakers have an ability to reminisce and untangle the past that make the songs that refer to him a fine tribute, without being too melancholic.
It’s a beautiful album and one I highly recommend.

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