Broken into Better Shape is the fourth studio album from Philadelphia Indie-Folk duo Good Old War. It is their first album on Canada’s Nettwerk Music Group. Broken into Better Shape feels like one heck of a hybrid album. The musical arrangements balance evenly between Pop and Folk while the lyrics are reminiscent of late 90’s and early ‘00’s emo.
The album opens with “Tell Me What you Want From Me?” The song debuted as a single in April and serves well in showing off the album’s duplicity of styles. There is a very repetitive rhythm that opens the song and highlights the folky side while the song fades repetitive lyrics, which is a staple of Pop music. In order to see just how well the styles are mixed, take a listen to the interlude which beautifully mixes guitar with subtle keys and synthesizer. That melding of Pop and Folk finds its way into track two “Fly Away” and shows off sublimely in a light and airy chorus that is sure to make you feel as though you are floating away.
The musical arrangements are far from the only part of this album that makes it the bands best to date. Woeful yet optimistic lyrics delivered slow and sharp by vocalist Keith Goodwin in songs like the title-track, “One More Time” and “Don’t Forget” may very likely lead you to lose yourself in the words. There is no denying the words to every song on this album are full of sorrow, but just as there is a balance in the music there is a balance in the lyrics. All you really have to do is look at the album’s title to find hints of optimism.
There is only one problem with this album at its ending. “Don’t Forget,” a song that deals with saying goodbye, is a really beautiful number to end on. Making the great escape through its nearly three and a half minutes, it convinces you that by this point you should be feeling sad but you should also be feeling the excitement of a new beginning. The problem arises just as the song is coming to an end. The guitar and vocals fade out a little too soon leaving a feeling of wanting just a little more. Perhaps if the song faded out just a touch more gradually that feeling of “that’s it?” would not exist.
Broken into Better Shape ultimately takes that folky sound that Good Old War have spent the past seven years perfecting and builds upon it with a better understanding of Pop music that is sure to have you joining in with the music. The balance between the two musical styles is perfectly done and the emotionally conflicting lyrics are certain to convince you that things have in fact been broken into better shape.
Luke Williams grew up a fan of punk and pop punk in a field of cows just outside of Barrie, Ontario. You can follow him on Twitter @musicwithluke