Crooked Fingers frontman Eric Bachmann has been around long enough to turn in a world-weary album that feels informed and authentic. Breaks In The Armor sees the former Archers of Loaf frontman looking back on a distinguished career through a nostalgia-tinted spectrum, trying to make sense of it all. A contemplative streak a mile wide runs through the album, enhanced by songs that are in turns hushed and vibrant but rife with gorgeous melodies despite the sparse instrumentation.
Bachmann’s distinctive voice lends his Springsteen-tinged Americana an authentic, lived-in feeling without ever quite reaching the same stark imagery infested heights that Springsteen managed with Nebraska. Bachmann & Springsteen both deal in the same kind of nostalgia-tinged introspection to great effect. Springsteen’s lyrics are exquisitely specific and detailed, making his songs essentially 4 minute stark short stories. In contrast, Bachmann’s lyrical ambiguity suits the mood of Breaks In The Armor and gives the listener plenty of opportunity for interpretation while being no less powerful.
Breaks In The Armor is at its most potent when a sense of underlying dread permeates the songs. Bad Blood & Your Apocalypse in particular are stand-out tracks, giving the album a cutting edge and preventing it from being a collection of 11 hushed, understated tracks that blend into one another. That isn’t to say that the more delicate numbers are completely bereft of worth. Bachmann has imbued Breaks In The Armor with lyrical unity by filling it with songs almost exclusively interested in looking backwards and analysing the past.
A solid addition to the Crooked Fingers canon, Breaks In The Armor is a cohesive piece of work that manages successfully to be brooding, beautiful and introspective without succumbing to the danger of descending into naval-gazing.