Broods' debut EP anxiously looks forward

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Young (like, 19-and-21-years-old-young) brother and sister duo from New Zealand, Caleb and Georgia Nott, make electro-pop music that encapsulates the existential air of fluid and uncertain identity in youth without romanticising teenage years as the ultimate, idealistic period of life — Broods by name and by nature. On their self-titled debut EP, they cover heartache and heartbreak, the euphoria of falling in love, yearning, disassociation and letting go — all with an undertone of anxiety about what’s going to happen. It’s impressive work for a debut; but then again, the two have been performing together since they had the awareness to do so, and the cohesion and mutual understanding between them shows.

Georgia’s sweet, slightly husky vocals bring to mind the likes of Lorde (with whom the EP’s producer and co-writer Joel Little had previously worked) and Ellie Goulding. Opener “Never Gonna Change” features multi-layered male and female backing vocals, like the long-held crash of a wave cutting back through water, working with the panned wisps of wind during the verse and outro. The lyrics tie age into emotion — enlightenment and experience with age and naivety with youth: “You’re pushing down on my shoulders / And emptying my lungs / And in a moment I'm older,” and then, “And I hate that I'm always so young / Had me feeling like you were the one.”

Cut up and rearranged, Georgia’s ‘ah’s and ‘oh’s in “Pretty Thing” serve as notes on a skipping synth riff. Boy and girl play two characters, or is it the internal and external expression of just the one? Georgia starts, and Caleb (in brackets) calls back, creating a message within a message, intertwined like the infatuated lovers of the story: “One night (take me) with me (with you) / Stay here (I'll go) if you can now baby (baby) I'll hold (I'll give) onto (you my) anything (everything) if I have to darling.” Drums sprint, bass bounds, signalling the heady rush of being “lost in love” — the song capturing what it’s like to be blissfully and entirely consumed by another person.

“Bridges” alludes to the end of something — something that hasn’t been working and has drained you for long enough, so you eradicate it from your life: “We're burning all the bridges now / Watching it go up in flames / No way to build it up again.” The mournful tone in the piano- and beat-driven verse of reflection and analysis is contrasted with the upbeat chorus of finality and action, the pound of synths purgative and cleansing.

With the three strongest tracks now over in this top-heavy offering, nighttime serenade “Sleep Baby Sleep” toes the line of drama but the delicate sweep of violin and Georgia’s reassuring head voice among the sharp beats keeps it grounded, while “Taking You There”, the most pared-back of the lot, with fingerpicked acoustic guitar as a backbone, is dream-state material. “Coattails”, coming at the end, feels like a mission statement: “So we'll ride the coattails to the finish line / I don't hear those church bells chime anymore / ’Cause I'm in love with this.” Through a marching chorus and anthemic melody, Broods are declaring their determination to achieve their ambitions. After five songs of conflicted emotions, confusion and tumult, the final one conveys confidence and surety — and isn’t that the dichotomy of being on the cusp of adulthood?

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