Album Review: The Broken West – Now or Heaven

On rare occasions, I love something so much that I can’t properly form words with which to describe the depth, breadth, and extent of my affection. Lately, this describes just how much I’ve gotten into the Broken West and their sophomore album, Now or Heaven. I’m in love. Love, I tell you. It’s full-blown, crazy dangerous infatuation and goddamn if it isn’t wonderful.

Now or Heaven is another one of those albums I should have made myself familiar with last year, but chide myself for not having done so. And let me tell you something, loves, it’s so good an album that it would have snuck into my top ten, probably the top five, for sure. It’s straight up magical and I adore it. For one thing, it’s on Merge, and we all know that pretty much makes this album awesome by default right off the bat. But then, in addition, it’s just plain old gloriously beautiful. It makes me smile like I’ve just won the lottery twice over.

Ten songs, ten different ways to steal my heart, piece by piece. Now or Heaven is impeccably produced, crisp, clear and oh so exquisitely, painfully good. It’s more than a little bit power pop, driven by straightforward vocals, sun-drenched guitars (I had to say it, they are from the Left Coast, after all), and a reliably, fiercely solid rhythm section, but it’s hardly an album full of fluff and nonsense. Lyrics like “Matter of fact/I got an attitude/that you will never see” and “I am/hidden in plain sight” (from “The Smartest Man Alive”) and “I got it bad/I only want what I can’t have” (from “Got It Bad”) give the distinct impression that there’s more here than meets the eye.

I pretty much dare you to take in this record ("Gwen, Now and Then", “Auctioneer” and “Ambuscade” being my current obsessively-repeated tracks) and not fall head over heels in love with the Broken West. It’s impossible, I tell you. Impossible.


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