Former frontman of The Mabels, Anthony Atkinson, may be a criminally unheralded songwriter, but someone with his knack for a tune shouldn’t be having to wait eight years between albums. Broken Folks is the first to be billed with his band The Running mates which includes members of The Lucksmiths, The Zebras and Mid-State Orange.
There are few who can deliver a narrative about people with ordinary lives in the way that Atkinson does. The Lake is a chugging juggernaut of melody that tells of the trials and tribulations of the long term relationship. The tune builds in volume and urgency with lines such as ‘she found new reasons for staying out, I found new reasons not to doubt‘ being given extra weight with swelling guitars and Atkinson’s most robust vocal to date. Pop songs don’t get more clever or entrancing than this.
Atkinson has the look of a well loved teddy bear, yet has the saccharine voice of an angel (albeit with an Australian accent) which is put to great use on the catchy as a dose single, It Radiates,which has a chorus that makes it impossible to get through one listen without singing along. Atkinson reunites with former Mabel for the a cappella duet Broken Folks to close out the album in a disconsolate manner.
For the many who still lament to demise of the Candle Records label, Broken Folks is a hark back to those glory days (in personnel as well as song) and would stack up favourably against any of those artists. In a fairer world Atkinson would be occupying a space in everybody’s CD collection.