Broker – Quixota: Exclusive Album Stream

Dissonant, angular Brighton three-piece stream their second album, Quixota, exclusively with The Independent

Remfry Dedman
Wednesday 16 November 2016 21:17 GMT
Broker in 2016, from left to right, Mark Roberts
Broker in 2016, from left to right, Mark Roberts (JC Riot)

Drawing from the explosive fury of hardcore, the DIY sensibilities of punk and blending them with a healthy dose of math-rock experimentation, Brighton based three piece Broker are set to release their second album, Quixota, through Smalltown America on Friday 21st October. Quixota sees the band continue to evolve and take a more personal outlook on their material in comparison to their debut album, 2014’s Argument/Counter Argument, exploring themes of mental health and relationship dissolution, as well as holding a microscope up to the hypocrisy and falsehoods found in modern 21st Century living. The album is available to stream a week ahead of its release exclusively with The Independent below.

Speaking on the themes that make up the brunt of Quixota, guitarist/vocalist Duncan Harrison looked more introspectively than he had on the band’s previous material. ‘Madness, otherness and marginality are definitely at the fore in terms of themes on this record but more importantly, the difficult questions about truth and the cultures which produce it are being looked at in these contexts’ he says. ‘It’s not a fun or comfortable thing to discuss but over the years in which this record was being worked on I witnessed and experienced what felt like masses of collapsing relationships and extreme mental illness. Watching these situations play out and being utterly unable to affect change over them represented a total failure of certain positivist ideas about truth or human nature I had been leaning on and I admitted to myself for the first time that I had entertained these values mostly for selfish reasons or because I took them as given; not because I truly believed them to be correct. What followed was a slow, systematic unpicking and rejection of a lot of this kind of thinking to the point that I now have great difficulty fully embracing any kind of system related to value, knowledge or belief. While this may sound very negative and bleak, it has bought about a degree of emotional and personal maturity that I’m happy to have and I’d much rather reserve total judgement than seek comfort in waving a flag or screaming myself into frenzy with groups of people identical to me. Though the immediate impact of all this on the record is an atmosphere of unapologetic anger, criticism and disappointment - and this is definitely the album we intended to make - the bigger message within it all is that acceptance of these things we’d rather not see or witness and a refusal to rely on mental aerobics and received cultural views as a form of comfort is a liberating thing to explore.’

Recorded by drummer Mark Roberts, Broker eschewed the more orthodox method of recording instruments separately, instead deciding to capture the experience of the band playing live in the room. ‘We are immensely fortunate that Mark is a talented and accomplished recording engineer who takes on the burden of recording our music,’ says Duncan ‘allowing us to evolve and experiment in comfort as a studio band. Mark had a vision for Quixota of an album recorded almost entirely live that would capture some of the energy and feel that can get lost in a lot of multitrack recording. We were very clear when it came time to record that Quixota would be a case of walking into a big room, playing at very high volume and leaving with a completed series of songs, which is more or less what happened. Experimenting with this more immediate and visceral ‘warts and all’ method ended up a perfect backdrop for the lyrics and themes which came to underpin the whole album. Whereas Argument/Counter Argument was very much about removed, neutral observations - with lyrics written to represent multiple vantage points on subject matter, Quixota is the product of far more personal circumstances, making the songs more direct, critical and incisive.’

Duncan also provided us with a detailed track-by-track commentary on the album:


I feel like this song marked a real moment when the whole album began to take shape. Lyrically, sonically and even in terms of how quickly and bluntly it was written, Talk serves as a great masthead for the whole album and was an easy choice for first single. The song is about trying to deal with being in love while suffering from depression, which is definitely not the sweetness and light sensation it should be and feels something more akin to being spiked. I’m not a massive believer in trying to make the composition of a song represent its wider themes but I suppose we happened upon something like this here with the freneticism and flow of the tune which seems to capture the helplessness and uncertainty that the lyrics express. When singing this song live I almost always faint during the final vocal in the song’s climax which might be a fun thing for prospective audience members to look out for at future shows.

Eau De Vie

There’s an awful lot of great stuff going on in Brighton but the negative reputation it has as a hub of pretentious hippie bulls**t is well earned. You’ll find a lot of bold talk and sloganeering about things like revolution and radical, alternative politics but rarely is this articulated through anything much more than people who agree with each other doing so in big groups while getting wasted. The bold faced hypocrisy of those who espouse ideals of love, enlightenment and spirituality while remaining totally addicted to their modern lives of social media, mass produced food and technology that people have been tortured and killed to produce is something that completely infuriates me. The group thinking that sees people subscribing so unreflexively to paper thin ideology is a truly frightening aspect of human psychology and I worry as much about what the world would look like at the behest of drug addled ‘revolutionaries’ as I do another 20 years of Conservative rule.


Though some very specific encounters with homelessness and disability inform the loose narrative of this track, it is more generally a song about the assimilation of other people’s suffering into accepted daily life. I think in situations where we see sad or tragic circumstance it is very easy to begin weaving a narrative around it and begin explaining everything away either as a sad fact of life or something out of our control, but the truth is we know nothing about such situations other than our own responses to them. We may say there is nothing we can do, but the truth is something more like we don’t want to or are afraid to act against practicality. Our rationalisations at these times are really just there to make us feel better and remain identifiable within spheres of comparative order, but in so doing further marginalise the ‘other’ and lock us in a horrible parasitic process in which our own journeys of self-discovery and identification become dependent in some way upon other people remaining in situations we would never wish to be in. Quixota is an attempt to really interrogate the mental process which defines someone as ‘other’ while expressing some of the searing guilt and confusion that doing so can bring about.

Torso, The Idol

While many of the other songs on Quixota look into darker aspects of mental health, Torso, The Idol is all about respite. It is a song dedicated to those moments of clarity which peek through in spells of depression and mania which allow a person to put down the morbid script they are drafting for their life and take some time to view the fuller picture. I view this one very much as a personal reminder that patience during such times always brings better perspective. It’s also the closest thing to a love song on the whole album and was written out of my appreciation for being accepted and forgiven despite being so difficult. The title derives from a painting by Kees Van Dongen which I discovered in a history of art course I attended earlier this year in the quaint town of Lewes. The entire class consisted of me and around 8 mostly retired ladies. I think we all had a great time together.


A very simple, sarcastic tune about loud mouths, particularly the kind encountered in the work place. Everyone in Broker has done time in the service and/or retail industry and this is quite simply a fun rant about idiotic customers and their shitty behaviour.

What The Contestants Don’t Know

I suppose I write the skeletons of most Broker songs on guitar but every so often Laurence (Tritton, Bass) will bring in a series of riffs which are unfailingly destructive, fast and over in about 50 seconds. Once they get fleshed out into slightly longer works, they always end up the most fun to play too. This is one of them and a personal favourite. His lyrics are always excellent too and I wish I could say I wrote them. This song is all about stupid TV game shows like The X Factor and the energy our public pour into them instead of their own lives and societies. The song ends with Laurence screaming ‘stop paying for Simon’s moat’ referring, of course, to Mr. Cowell, which I believe to be the greatest Broker lyric ever penned. There are lots of references to voting in this song and we often argue about it on stage because Laurence, being quite a hard-line anarchist, doesn’t really believe in voting while Mark and I are a bit more prepared to compromise. Personally, I enjoy that we don’t agree since the alternative would probably be playing in some useless anarcho crust band.

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The Grass Is Always Greener In Kreuzberg

Named after the middle class rite of passage ubiquitous among alternative types that is relocating to Berlin, this song is more widely a critique of Utopia creation. Berlin - and indeed many other European cities popular among us ‘expats’ - are beautiful places and I don’t deny what appears to be a comparatively richer quality of life to be found in them. However, the reverential tones in which some people speak of places like Berlin would make you think that its cheap rent, falafel and vegan supermarkets have somehow cancelled out all problems endemic to modern, human civilisation. In short, this song is another rant against the floppy hypocrisy of a very particular brand of privileged hippie.


Named in tribute to the author Henry Miller whose novels I was reading a lot during a very difficult year in my life. The most personally fuelled and difficult song on the record? Probably…and also the one which took the longest to write, due in part to its stylistic difference to our other songs but also wanting desperately to do justice to its subject matter. Lyrically and in real life, Miller is the end point and farewell note of a relationship which broke down amidst a great deal of mental illness on all sides. This is probably the only song of ours to feature such clean, exposed vocals and though my performance here is far from polished I’m glad we decided to go for it and serve the song rather than our own fears of bad execution. Although this is a very serious song, we realised that a certain line sounds like I’m singing ‘Lou Ferrigno, Fine Young Cannibals’ and this usually replaces the real lyrics during live outings of the song. The first eagle eared listener to write to us with the correct line can have a free LP.


There isn’t a way to paint this song as about much more than failing relationships. It’s nothing new but the experience of watching your situation slowly fall apart up until the point you’re packing your possessions into boxes is one potent enough to base your album’s closing number on. While certainly a more overtly personal number there is commentary toward the songs end about grappling with the realisation that life is not perfect and sometimes things just fail despite all good intentions. For this reason I think it is a really nice way to close things and put a full stop on the album and the things that brought it about.

Quixota is on vinyl and digitally through Smalltown America on Friday 21st October and is available to pre order now

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