Oklahoma's Broncho has shifted energies from 2013's Can't Get Past the Lips to this year's Just Enough Hip to Be Woman. While the first disc channeled a garage-rock sound, the latest hones in on a dreamier, childlike quality that is simultaneously dark and upbeat. The most enticing quality, however, is the introduction of poppy, spacey, and captivating hooks that are only enhanced by the band's cleverly cynical lyrics.
After listening to Just Enough Hip to Be Woman, you might gather that Broncho spent a lot of time on the beach or tripped out on drugs — or both. In reality, a lot of touring was involved. According to lead singer and guitarist Ryan Lindsey, they honed their new sound on stage. "We played a lot of shows, and that brought a lot of time to explore ourselves and the world we were living in. We also had three years between releases, so that helped the change, I'm sure. Time does the most work for us," he says.
Formed in 2010, Broncho rose from the ashes of a collection of DIY recordings Lindsey and drummer Nathan Price created for a film project. "I showed the recordings to a couple friends of mine, and they decided we should make a band out of it," remembers Lindsey. As simple as that, the duo started booking shows and finished a disc with the tracks they had already recorded. Bassist Johnathan Ford soon joined the mix.
Broncho recorded both albums with long-time friends Chad Copelin and Jarod Evans, who are engineers and producers at Blackwatch Studios. There, they have worked with artists like Christina Perri, Train, Ben Rector, and even South Carolina's own Needtobreathe. However, when it came to live performance, the second disc was a bit trickier to pull off. "It's been a mix of bringing in the energy of our previous shows and mixing that with the sound of the current record," says Lindsey.
The three members of Broncho draw inspiration from a variety of groups but a few are clear faves: the Ramones, Dinosaur Jr., Wavves, and The Strokes. When it comes to contemporary artists, however, Lindsey goes for vocal prowess. His muse? "Celine Dion is my favorite," he admits. "Just listen to 'The Power of Love.' She's got the hits. I love the hits." And sure enough, Broncho's latest disc produced a hit in the playfully retro beach-rock tune "Class Historian," which has reached over five million listens on Spotify and garnered attention from Stereogum and Consequence of Sound.
The newest single "I Don't Really Want to Be Social" has also earned the band some attention. With lyrics that describe the feeling of floating around in your head on a bad day, the song is indicative of how Broncho has formed a bridge between the emotional tension of Can't Get Past the Lips and the more mellow Just Enough Hip to Be Woman. "What" starts off the disc with a space-like stutter, while "Class Historian" features a speedy staccato melody that stays with you long after the song is finished. "Deena" shows off Lindsey's lower range, while the vocals on "Stop Tricking" occasionally remind us of Jeff Tweedy. "It's On" busts out of the gates with a rapid drumline and takes you back to high school with tales of cutting class, bail bonds, and sexual tension, while the final track "China" chimes, chants, and screeches.
Beyond music, Lindsey notes Broncho's more obviously unique talents. "I have 11 fingernails," he says. "Ben's a great listener. And Nathan has a really nice body."