In 2019, New Zealand siblings Georgia and Caleb Nott — also known as Broods — released their comeback LP Don’t Feed the Pop Monster, which appeared as an extravagant experiment in the making of pop music. Three years later, the pair has delivered Space Island, a work that maintains the sonic stylings of its predecessor but greatly expands on its founding content and depth.
The thematic narrative entwining each track on Space Island is the end of lead singer Georgia’s marriage, the grief of which seems to fuel the making of this record. The emotion permeates almost every track, albeit in very different constructions, but nevertheless brings a sense of realism and vulnerability to the pair’s discography. Unlike Don’t Feed the Pop Monster and other earlier works, Space Island wholly commits itself to exploring and deconstructing pain, the likes of which make this record a powerful yet fun take on the heartbreak genre.
As the album opens with “Goodbye World, Hello Space Island,” there’s an undeniable paradigm shift in the first minute, leading the listener delicately and thoughtfully into something unexpected. Fans of Broods know the band for unshakeable hooks and infectious synth arrangements; here, however, the duo announces an entirely new focus for this time around. Just as the opener presents itself, slowly and distortedly, Broods cleverly heralds a key thread in Space Island: melancholy.
Putting the two in the same sentence — Broods and melancholy — almost feels contradictory. Yet, Space Island exists as proof of the band’s growth and maturity, handling facets of love and loss with poise and infectious energy. In a sense, it represents the heart of the duo — how the pair is able to transform any context, any concept into a pop spectacle.
Throughout Space Island, however, Broods are not merely producing mindless pop; instead, tender emotion stands at the forefront of every lyric and behind every synth, encompassing the entire LP. The raw pain and heartache in Georgia’s voice pulls together every element of the album — from the heavy bass to the glistening harmonics, connecting a seemingly inconsistent grouping of styles. Mixing together such sonic intensity and lyrical sincerity allows the record to work so well, and despite seeming odd, it makes Space Island an effective and evocative listen.
The peak of Space Island comes into full form on “Piece of My Mind,” one of the most successful amalgamations of Broods’ formula. The track is honest, fast-paced but always true to the feelings it presents. The psychological anguish and insecurity highlight new dimensions to a track that could otherwise feel expected or overdone.
The first half of Space Island is propelled by pure high-pulse passion. It’s intoxicating and multifaceted, enriched by the intimate look around Georgia’s psyche. This is also where the record reaches its most powerful and effective resonance — maintaining energy throughout for a flawless concoction of emotion and effervescence.
Unfortunately, the latter half of Space Island struggles to preserve the vigor set in the opening tracks. A litany of slower pieces interrupts the charm and intrigue developed from Broods’ earlier combination of speed and affection. While a single heartbreak ballad would be an understandable admission into the album’s track list, the stark and consuming low mood of the second half creates too much friction, souring the album’s end.
It is, nonetheless, a relatively minor kink in the grand scheme of Space Island, one that is certainly eclipsed by Broods’ fervor, spirit and understanding of pop. What this sibling duo has created is an undeniable testament to the evolution of pop, and the future of the genre is clay in Broods’ hands.