The Broken West

After being together for more than two years as The Brokedown, this L.A. quintet recently changed its name because of complaints from a similarly monikered band. Now christened The Broken West, the group seems to be taking the adjustment in stride, but, based on the evidence provided by its full-length debut, it's used to rolling with the punches. As the title makes obvious, I Can't Go On, I'll Go On is fraught with lead singer Ross Flournoy's battles to pull shreds of optimism out of his and his bandmates' romantic disasters. Because it plies its trade in the realm of wistful power-pop, The Broken West gets its fair share of Big Star comparisons, but a more correct precedent is prime Teenage Fanclub. "So It Goes" and "Down in the Valley" mirror that group's merging of driving rhythms and impossibly hopeful choruses, somehow layering a cheerful tone over melancholy sentiments. On several occasions when the songs merely ape the crash 'n' jangle of their elders, you're reminded that this is still a pretty young band trying to find itself. But on their best tracks, when they nail their melodies dead-on perfect, you pray that they never lose their winning idealism.


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