INTERVIEW + REVIEW: Broods’ new album Don’t Feed the Pop Monster
Watch out: Broods’ moody and uplifting third album will all but eat you up
In the two years since the last album from New Zealand’s brother-and-sister duo Broods, Conscious, was released, the only constant for Georgia and Caleb Nott has been change. So there is a sense the opening lyric of their third album Don’t Feed the Pop Monster, out on 1 February, is a statement of intent: “Fashion never lasts.”
“We tried writing for radio. We tried following trends. And we still got dropped!” Georgia Nott laughs as she recalls the at times traumatic experience of being dropped by their record label in 2016. “We were like, ‘Okay, well, that didn’t work – we might as well do whatever the fuck we want.’”
And throwing out the rule book – “Instead of overthinking everything … we made a point of just completely trusting in ourselves and trusting in each other,” she says – has possibly been the best move Broods could have made. Don’t Feed the Pop Monster is an outstanding collection from one of the most talented and possibly underrated bands in the game. While the vibe is unmistakably Broods, there is a depth and texture to the songs only previously hinted at on their first two albums.
From the electro fizz of opener ‘Sucker’, to the ethereal, ’80s-tinged synth of ‘Falling Apart’, to the sleazy punk of ‘Old Dog’ and the indie buzz of brilliant first single ‘Peach’ – still as compelling as ever – Broods have delivered an album with a broad sonic palette which still manages to sound cohesive, evocative and very, very compelling. “It’s a little bit different from the last couple of albums, sound-wise, and you always get a little bit nervous about what people are going to think of you,” Nott says. “This is our heart and soul poured into these albums and we’re the ones who have to live with what we put out there. Who we are on this album is kind of our core, and that’s cool.”
If one theme runs through the album, it is what makes up the heart and soul of the Notts. In many ways following on from Georgia’s excellent side project of 2018, The Venus Project Vol. 1, the songs are intensely personal and touch on emotional fragility, depression and the dark side of relationships. “Why do you believe me when I say I’m in control? / I don’t want to sleep tonight, I feel nothing at all,” Nott sings over the skittering, contrastingly melancholic-yet-funky beat of ‘Why Do You Believe Me?’, while ‘Everytime You Go I Cry’ was written while her husband was overseas for five months. “Every time you go I cry / Oceans pouring from my eyes / … I need to know: do you need my love?” although in true Broods style its driving, frenetic backbeat is just as suited to the dance floor as it is to moments of loneliness.
Exposing her innermost thoughts and feelings is something Nott accepts as part and parcel of who she is as an artist. “I feel like in the last six years I have literally built a career just running around expressing myself,” she laughs. “You get a little bit addicted to being exposed, I guess. There’s nothing really left to hide … and that’s quite liberating.” She also feels that, as an artist with a platform, it is important for her and for Broods to talk about issues such as mental health in their music. “People need to keep talking to each other and they need to be open about these things,” she says. “They need to be normalised – that we go through these things – so that we don’t feel isolated. I think that’s our purpose in this industry.”
And in the process, being vulnerable in their music has also been healing for the Notts. Part of the album was written on a writers’ retreat in the Nicaraguan jungle and Georgia says, as well as it being “the best week of my life!” it “helped open up a part of us that we didn’t know we were allowed to have access to”. One of the songs that came out of those sessions was ‘Too Proud’, which sprang from the reluctance of men to discuss depression and the often tragic results of that. “Caleb especially turned a huge page because there’s kind of this whole stigma around men and being emotional,” Nott explains – especially in New Zealand, she says, where suicide rates are rising.
‘Too Proud’ also became the first Broods song featuring Caleb on lead vocals. “I think that was the power of the jungle,” Georgia laughs. “We wrote the words and I was like, ‘I think you should sing it.’” Caleb agreed and Georgia remembers “bawling” throughout the recording session – while trying not to make a sound. “Yeah, I cried a lot on that trip,” she says wryly. “It was a hugely important experience for us, as brother and sister, as a band and as people. It was really special and really life-changing.”
Whether Caleb will return to the lead vocalist position, though, remains to be seen. “We need to see how he goes singing it live because he’s shitting his pants about it,” Nott laughs. “He’s so scared! I think it’s just one of those things you have to get over and done with and then it becomes less intimidating.”
And while the emotional and anthemic ‘Too Proud’ is without doubt Caleb’s signature song on the album, Nott nominates ‘Dust’ as her favourite track. “It’s just very, very personal to me,” she explains. “After so long only exercising the part of your brain that is creative and imaginative, it can run super wild and I think there have been times where I’ve coped with not being happy by going into a different world.” She likens the experience to living in a fantasy realm – as in Alice in Wonderland or Narnia, “these romantic journeys of magic” – although ‘Dust’ is more a cautionary tale of the dangers of spending too much time in your own head. “There are times when I think, ‘I wonder what will happen if I completely let myself go crazy?’” she says cautiously. “I’ve been through times where I’ve felt like I’m on the verge of losing my mind. ‘Dust’ is my ‘If you go there, you won’t come back’ song.” She’s quick to see the humour in it, though: “Just remember to check yourself before you wreck yourself,” she laughs. “But that song is probably my favourite song that I’ve ever written.”
Moody and emotional yet joyful and life-affirming, Broods songs have a remarkable ability to connect directly with their audience, and Don’t Feed the Pop Monster is no exception. Plus, if there was ever a silver lining in being dropped from a record label, this album is it. “Trends are always being shoved in your face and like I think it’s really easy to get caught up in keeping up with them,” Nott admits. “But we knew that the only way we were going to make something that lasts was to throw that aside and make what feels right for us. We’ve definitely found how to actually make our voices heard.” They are voices that everyone should have on their playlist this year.
Don’t Feed The Pop Monster is released on February 1. You can pre-order or pre-save the album here
Broods will be touring across Australia in May and June:
May 21 - The Forum, Melbourne
May 22 - Thebarton Theatre, Adelaide
May 28 - Enmore Theatre, Sydney
May 30 - Eatons Hill Hotel, Brisbane
June 1 - Metropolis, Fremantle
Tickets on sale 9am February 4
Live Nation pre-sale begins 9am Friday, February 1 until 7am Monday, February 4.
For complete tour and ticket information, visit: broodsmusic.com