Paraded as a fusion of different styles - rap, beat boxing, spoken word, and gospel all feature - ‘These Walls Of Mine’ is the result of a creative process that started merely as a collection of words, lyrics, thoughts and pictures assembled over the last two years. Channelling these components and giving them a sense of musical embodiment, Broderick’s eclectic snapshots of life are understandably as messy as they are nonsensical.
The production of the album has left it, perhaps deliberately, with 1970s sheen, with much of the album’s ten tracks resonating with a mix of reverb and echo for most of its duration. Psychedelic melodies dominate the opening third of the album, ‘Inside Out There’ stutters with its broken fragmented vocals that loop around the swathes of ambience. ‘Freyr!’ on the other hand, is perhaps the most comprehensible of the tracks on offer here, recalling an email from Broderick’s father about their missing family cat. Whilst there are gentle nods to the leftfield delivery of the Eels, the country twang and six minute running time here feel overwrought and overlong.
The directionless, ‘I’ve Tried’ is a late night affair of hushed vocals and gentle cellos, the random lyrics that are scattered amongst ‘When I Blank I Blank’ is merely a painfully boring soundtrack to an art installation (‘I’m away from her… miss her… not the same…’), whilst ‘These Walls Of Mine I’ rests entirely on the spoken word form and poetry. Experimental perhaps, but still a good way off from enjoyable.
Sonically at least, ‘These Walls Of Mine II’ is the most interesting of the lot. Mixing piano, rap (albeit badly), and a blatant disregard for 1980s beats, the re-delivery of the previous track’s lyrics only works to highlight the album’s biggest flaw. Removing the source material from its original context makes these songs and compositions redundant, appearing merely as a collage of words and slithers of memory which in their present form must surely render them meaningless to everyone aside from Broderick himself.
Ultimately, ‘These Walls Of Mine’ is too incoherent and disparate in style to merit any amount of satisfaction. It’s a record that is immensely hard to like, yet tries genuinely hard to be different. Whilst such experimentation is commendable in many respects, in practise the album fails miserably.