Life Is Easy
Bright Light Bright Light
47:48 min • Self Raising • July 4, 2014
Nick Smith reviews
Although there is still an electro-synth storm of sorts at work in the music industry, it’s wonderful to know that there are some lightning forks such as Graingerboy, Frankmusik and Bright Light Bright Light, lending their originality, sincerity and pure talent to the densely populated genre. Bright Light Bright Light is the nom de plume (lifted from a Gizmo quote from the film Gremlins) of musical marvel Rod Thomas who was catapulted to critical acclaim and celebrity adulation with his debut album Make Me Believe In Hope.
Where his first full length record could have been tagged with a sad-face emoji, Life Is Easy has a knowing optimistic wisdom coursing through its sonic blueprint. Slow burning ambience underpins the synth-pop of the opener ‘Everything I Ever Wanted’. This could easily be a hidden track from a Pet Shop Boys album with its melancholic, yet positive lean on a break-up. ‘There Are No Miracles’ channels left-field, ambient Kylie at her very best and seems to tread a Dolly Parton-esque narrative of making your own dreams come true.
‘I Wish We Were Leaving’ showcases a more cinematic feel which suits Thomas’s sincere and melancholic vocal perfectly, not to mention an on-form, sanguine Elton John who adds another side to this story in his verse, rendering the beautiful track both mournful and hopeful:
Small talk, big nights,
So many signs you’re not alright,
Going faster than you wanted –
One of the album’s highlights is the pulsating ‘An Open Heart’, a perfect left-field and euphoric sister to Madonna’s ‘Frozen’, in which Thomas explores self-empowerment, rather than trying to melt another’s heart. Another apex is the absolute banger ‘Good Luck’ with its deep-house piano forming a spiteful jab at a worthless ex.
Good luck finding somebody else fool enough to let you get into their head,
Just don’t hold your breath –
This slight unpleasant taste is eliminated completely when the track weaves instantly into the positively exultant ‘I Believe’ where the euphoric beats and vocals are divine.
Although the album harks back slightly to the synth of the ’80s and the piano-house of the ’90s, nothing here sounds dated, as more real instruments are featured with strings, guitars and pianos, lending a somewhat cinematic composition to the record. ‘Lust For Life’ is the perfect example of this crossover, a beautiful ambient ballad with an ethereal vocal buttressed by a synth dreamscape.
‘Too Much’ is awash with a deep New York house feel with its synth shimmers and heavy bassline and ‘In Your Care’ has lost none of its ethereal splendour since its release last year. ‘More Than Most’ is an ode to a deflated friend and has some wonderful lyrical affirmations and vocal harmonies. There is a somewhat far-eastern feel from the tinkly keyboards and guitar strums, lending more to the adventurous heart of the track:
To hell with your money, if you can’t afford to dream,
And to hell with the others and how pretty they can be.
You’ve got more than most if you could open your eyes –
The album closes with the opulent, mid-tempo ballad ‘Happiness’ with shades of The Beloved ‘Sweet Harmony’ albeit with a coarser beat which soars into an empowering crescendo.
Life Is Easy is a rather cathartic journey with themes of loss, empowerment and new beginnings, but ultimately has a more optimistic and cinematic feel than its predecessor. Bright Light Bright Light is proof however that lightning does strike twice. Magnificent.
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