album review

New Zealand duo Broods polish away engaging rough edges on ‘Conscious’

“Conscious,” Broods

Armed to the teeth with surging synths, massive hooks, breathless vocals, and devastatingly blunt lyricism, Broods’ 2014 record, “Evergreen,” sounded more like the work of a seasoned outfit than that of two Kiwi siblings — Georgia and Caleb Nott, 20 and 22 at the time of its release, respectively — crafting their first LP. On tracks like the woozy, heartsick confessional “Sober” and pulsating kiss-off “Bridges,” Broods didn’t just seem to know their way around the studio; they felt exceedingly assured as a creative entity. It’s both surprising and disappointing, then, to see long-in-the-works follow-up “Conscious” bring the pair further into the mainstream electropop fold, and away from the chilly, ethereal darkness of their debut. In spots, the Broods of yesteryear are visible, most prominently on tumultuous opener “Free,” intimate entreaty “Worth the Fight,” and the climactic title track. But by and large this album finds their edges sanded down, their lyrics dulled. “Conscious” may be polished to a high gloss, but it lacks the personality and emotion that made Broods’ debut such a shadowy revelation.

ESSENTIAL “Conscious”

Broods perform at Royale Boston Aug. 3.

Isaac Feldberg can be reached at him on Twitter @i_feldberg.