Chalk this one up as a pleasant surprise. Broken Gold is a project including current and ex-members of the Riverboat Gamblers (guitarist Ian MacDougall as frontman, former bassist Patrick Lillard), and their debut full-length, Recovery Journal, is a strong, heartfelt and all-encompassing effort.
What Broken Gold serve up here is slow to mid-paced, Americana and Brit-tinged punk/post-hardcore quite like similarly new peers Restorations—rough-hewn atmospheres with plenty of anguish and raw energy, and an interesting mix of modern and vintage production tones to present it. They’re probably just both borrowing some sugar from the Constantines, but Broken Gold have some Strummer-isms in their vocal delivery and the distinct melodic gravel of Hüsker Dü to set them apart a bit—that much is clear in “Locked Out” and its more straightforward stomping, while “Bottom of the Pool” cuts away its more languid parts with some Replacements-style rocking (an inspiration clearest on the acoustic “Message to a Friend”). Still, the more layered guitars and steady pacing in other cuts like “Leave a Light” and “Ambulance Faces” feel like the moments where the breadth of Broken Gold’s wisdom and experience best resonate. That especially extends to “Mirrors”, which, musically, occasionally sounds like Envy jamming out ideas in their practice space—for real.
Knowing the backstory to this album likely helps emphasize its impact, too: MacDougall was hospitalized with major injuries after being hit by a car riding his bike home in 2009. He kept a recovery journal, so you can sense the thematic purpose inherent in the album in question. There’s a strain to this album best exemplified by throat-searing yearning, like in “Rules”.
Recovery Journal has some minor lulls here and there, but mostly manages to retain a hearty, interesting candor throughout its course. Definitely recommended.