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“Broken” by Motive Black

Too many female-fronted rock bands wind up following much of the same model their predecessors formed not out of genuine creative interest but due to pressure from within the industry, but from the looks of the video for their song “Broken,” I would have to say that L.A.’s Motive Black isn’t about to start sacrificing ideals for a fatter stream count anytime soon. In “Broken,” the band combines literate lyrical content with a scathing punk rock delivery and wholly metallic melodicism to boot, and while I wouldn’t call it an outright alternative to the mainstream right now, it’s definitely a shot of life where we need one in pop the most. 


“Broken” features a moderate use of melodic ribbonry, and I like that it doesn’t overindulge when it comes to driving its hook to the listener. Rather than playing to some predictable climax, Motive Black is determined to circle the cathartic release in the chorus, only hinting at the kind of thunder they might unleash if left to come undone completely. In some respects, this single feels like a preview of their live show for those of us who haven’t seen them on stage before, and personally, I really like what I’m seeing here. 

The guitars in this mix are very controlled, taking a backseat to the lead vocal for the better part of the track and leaving a lot of space at the top for the percussion to brutally shape the groove. The biggest problem I’ve had with alternative rock in the past few years has been the total misuse of guitar distortion, but this is an outfit that seems to know what they want to do with it – and boy, let me tell you, they could blow the paint off of the walls in the right setting. 

There are a few stealthy industrial tones in the aesthetical makeup of the harmony here that are mostly unexplored by the band, but I’d like to see Motive Black look into that aspect of their sound a little more in the future. There’s room for them to continue their evolution, but the format they’re working with right now is too perfectly cut and dry to be messed with for at least their first two albums. Streamlining is not something these players should be thinking about right now – they’ve got a winning ticket in “Broken,” and I think they should stick with it. 

In 2021, the demand for fresh rock n’ roll music is actually getting to be considerable once more, and it’s only going to be bands like Motive Black that bring the genre back from the underground to the mainstream spotlight it was dominated so profoundly. “Broken” is an ode to the angst-ridden alternative rock of the ‘90s but with a much heavier backend to sport, and if it’s just a sneak preview of what these musicians are going to be bringing to the game on a regular basis, we’re going to see a lot more accolades coming this crew’s way soon. 

Mindy McCall



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