It is often dubbed the “difficult” second album, in most cases this statement duly proves to be mere superstition or rather an unfortunate belief in the folklore of artistic stagnation, while the creation of Broken Hands’ sophomore record was fairly straight-forward on the surface, its arrival into the world has been far from it. A series of delays ensued and uncertainty grew, but this week the band is vindicated, and its second album is shown to the world. Split in Two is a breakthrough of sorts for Broken Hands, even more so than debut Turbulence was, a wash of confidence, curiosity, assertiveness and experimentalism rules the album’s core ten tracks. It explores human psychology more deeply than ever, it investigates creative impulses and consistently breaks new ground.
Split in Two is the album Broken Hands was always going to make, the delivery of said album was always up for debate but the result, is essentially, a band coming of age and owning its place in music and in the world. A celebration of the journey taken and now fulfilled.
Broken Hands recently revealed an audio recording explaining the high and lows, and challenges and triumphs, that they have experienced during this album cycle, the band’s frontman details, very candidly, the release journey and the experiences it has brought about: the internal setbacks and the overriding desire to follow through on what they had started. It’s a stirring, but all too familiar set of events that hammers home the vitality of a band’s integrity, core beliefs, and love for their craft.
Below, the band’s vocalist and co-songwriter Dale Norton talks through the album’s full tracklisting, contextualising and offering pearls of insight into the album’s conception and completion.
“CAN YOU FEEL IT“
It was the first track written for the album, so the oldest by some stretch but the weird thing is that it discusses being able to feel society closing in on you, narrowing your options. It probably works as a letter now to how I’ve felt during the pandemic! The line, ‘Come with me / I’ve got no idea where we’re going’ seems more relevant now than when we wrote it. The intro sound at the start of the track is kind of like an echo from the end of our last record (“WTLL,”) as this is Track 1 of the album we thought it would be a cool way bridge the album’s different sonics.
This song is the lyrical brother of the title track, “Split in Two.” It discusses being divided as a person and that some people’s choices on how they intoxicate themselves can unfortunately magnify this divide. The post-chorus riff almost almost didn’t make the cut but someone in the studio next door was humming that riff whilst making a cuppa, and we thought, ‘Well, they don’t know us and they’ve remembered it,’ so I guess it needs to make the final cut.
I’ve spoken a few times about this track being about a false sense of security but this year I’ve seen another side to the record. Some said to me, ‘Why did you decide to do a sort of rap on that track?,’ I just said to them that that’s not what it’s meant to come across like. We just had loads of lyrics we really liked and didn’t want to get rid of them. Also, the piano line came from an experiment we did, trying to write alternative music for Planet Earth.
This song is written by Callum, it was originally composed on a Baritone guitar. I think this track is a great bridge between the two opposite colours the record has, Industrial to Americana. Callum, I think, wanted this track to come across like the Everly Brothers but with Death From Above as the backing band.
This track has become our jam-out tune live, it seems to be getting longer and longer. It’s the most ‘West Coast’ ambient psych the album gets and it gets even more so live! We are massive fans of My Morning Jacket, I hope that people who are fans of that band might enjoy this track.
“SPLIT IN TWO“
I think we all realised that this track was the most important on the album, its a track that represents where we are at now. The same was to be said about “Turbulence” on the last record, hence the reason they are the title tracks to their respective albums.
“Light Up” is a song that has captured parts of the audience that we would expect to live. Thomas wrote this one, and its story is personal to him, but in short it documents a trip he took to America pre-the writing of the album. It’s funny that we would end up playing this every night around the States last year, it’s like we delivered it home.
This is our ode to Black Sabbath and our collective favourite song to play live. It’s direct, just like this description haha.
“THINKING OF YOU“
This was a last minute addition to the tracklisting. It displays some great slide playing from Jamie. He also reversed the chord changes for the song, so it sounds completely different. I still hear it the old way when we play live, but these changes forced it onto the album.
“FOR THE NIGHT“
“For the Night,” as a song talks about being separated from loved ones during lengthy tours, which to be honest, is exactly how I’ve felt during lockdown as me and my partner have had to live separately. It’s crazy that life can separate us, regardless of our decisions.
This track is definitely the odd one out on this record, but we think it is important to show a different side of what we do musically. We thought what better way for a rock band to do that than release a ballad.
“DON’T TELL ANYONE“
This didn’t make the ‘our top 10’ due to the fact that we couldn’t all agree where it should sit in the album running. I think it’s probably the most old school Radiohead sort of track we’ve made. I’m also not sure it has the same message as the other tracks but we are proud of it and happy the world can hear it as opposed to lying dormant in our ‘archive’, haha.
I love this song, arguably more than “For the Night”! Thomas started this tune and I finished it. Personally, for me, it feels really exhilarating to sing it! It’s another track that I think shows the Americana colours we’ve made. I’m pretty sure one day we will look back at this song and say, “Why wasn’t that the main ballad of this record?” until then let’s see how it goes.
“SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT“
So this bit of music hits really hard! But we never truly thought the song itself was strong enough. Still, it acts as a little window looking at the energy our live show has, in my opinion, so it deserved to be released on that alone.
Broken Hands’ new album, Split in Two is released on 21st August via So Recordings – and is available to Pre-Order on various formats, here.
Photo Credit: Hollie Fernando