Martin Carr — The Breaks (Album Review)

Martin Carr's The Breaks

Martin Carr’s The Breaks

Perhaps it’s because music writers are starting to realize its far too vainglorious to pick on the music teenage girls like (One Direction, Justin Bieber), or maybe it’s because vindictive Gen Y bloggers are using it as an opportunity to slam old media artists who no longer have the forum to fight back, for whatever reason one of 2014’s big punching bags has been an amorphous catchall called “dad rock.”

Urban Dictionary calls dad rock, “The standard set of albums from the ’60s and ’70s that every boomer likes… Dad rockers have no desire to listen to recent music and are stuck in the past.”

There is, however, more to dad rock than Jason Segel and Paul Rudd’s I Love You, Man Rush jam outs in the man cave. Take, for example, the new album The Breaks by former Boo Radleys/Bravecaptain frontman Martin Carr.

Jason Segel and Paul Rudd in I Love You, Man

Jason Segel and Paul Rudd in I Love You, Man

It’s definingly “dad rock.”

“I wrote the songs when I was spending most of my days dealing with babies and young children,” the 46-year-old father of two said in the album’s bio. “The period that seems to last forever and you start to wonder of things will ever be normal again, or less normal anyway. Stifled, the hours move like mountains, the days speed like bullets.”

Though not quite an existential parenting crisis concept album, there’s clearly been a lot of self-searching on The Breaks. This is perhaps best exemplified by the escapist track “Mountains.” A shimmery pop plea, “Mountains” is Carr looking to get away from something. What that is, he doesn’t explicitly say, but a suspicious mind could easily come up with any number of uncomfortable notions.

“Senseless Apprentice” perhaps most approaches Carr’s Boo Radleys past with its hearty groove and series of sha-la-la-la-las, but its more of an evolution-from than a return to his white noisier past. What this song and insidiously melodious opener “Santa Fe Skyway” most reveal is a Carr whose years of experience have made him a master pop craftsman.

Where Carr’s higher profile former Creation Records colleagues’ mystique has deteriorated over time — Oasis have imploded, Primal Scream’s constant sonic adventuring’s getting desperate, My Bloody Valentine have beaten their paralysis only through repetition, and Jesus And Mary Chain have become a nostalgia act — the nagging listlessness Carr taps into on The Breaks is essential to the vibrancy of his new songs. Paradoxically, getting old and having kids is keeping Carr sharp. And the songs on The Breaks are just as relatable as “Wishing I Was Skinny” or “Wake Up Boo!’ were some 20 years ago.

On The Breaks Martin Carr directly confronts his slow descent into adulthood — something we all have to do — and if that makes this album “dad rock,” then there may be some worth to dad rock after all.

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