Album Review: Brightly ‘One For Sorrow, Two For Joy’
Peppered with delicious contradictions and clashes, Brightly’s third album ‘One For Sorrow, Two For Joy’ is amongst London’s freshest folk-tronica offerings for 2016. The pitch-bending piano and the constant dynamic motion of hazy, gravelly synthesiser melodies in opening number Atoms makes a strong foundation for the album. Featuring intense synth build-ups and fall-outs, the track thrives on anticipation, making it the perfect way to segue into the next track.
Building on a catchy chord progression, Rugby starts off a winner and just keeps growing. Gleason’s vocal inflections cry out for the stage, contradicting the smooth, modern electronic production, but somehow both elements are just odd enough to work together, creating a sound almost like a burgeoning techno-influenced musical number. Blurring the lines between weird and cool, intergalactic synthesisers are a dominant feature, until a relaxed beat transforms the track into a near-typical club dance tune. In case you needed any more reason to give this track a listen, it may be the only time you ever hear the phrase “Got c*m on my cheeks, but I swear I believe in true love”.
Gleason outdoes himself with exceptionally smooth vocals, emerging in glorious contrast against the gritty electric guitar, and finishes with an obligatory hit of kaleidoscopic synth.
Sounding almost like a lullaby, Lost starts with a gentle melody and dewy synth. Once again, Gleason outdoes himself with exceptionally smooth vocals, emerging in glorious contrast against the gritty electric guitar, and finishes with an obligatory hit of kaleidoscopic synth. In the same vein, I Will Never Let You Go is a culmination of the band’s essential elements, like a one-track snippet of all the album’s textures. Restrained instrumentation and hazy synth in the opening lines highlight the dramatic vocals. Then, throwing in an off-kilter percussive rhythm, a corporeal drum rhythm, and a flickering extra-terrestrial synth melody, Brightly yields another complex, unnaturally well-balanced tune.
Following suit, One For Sorrow, Two For Joy sees Gleason carry off a litany of poetic phrases and artistic lyrical metaphors in a voice rife with Bowie-esque theatrics. The track’s thudding beat dissolves into tinny, reverberating synthesiser chords, arriving at an uncomplicated melody as Gleason sings, “There is something in my shoes/They’re still dragging through/ The little bits of me that got left with you”.
A pumping beat and dance-track feel make Bury Us In Fruit Jars an album highlight. Brightly’s unusual beat manipulation rings of English producer Example’s style, contrasting against the smooth vocal melody. The track’s final chorus demonstrates impressive production instinct, tactfully weaving all the elements together until even the strange percussive rhythm begins to make sense. Finally, an emotional lyrical turn leaves a deeper meaning lingering, transforming a song into a statement – “When I’m gone/When the breath leaves my lungs/Bury me in a fruit jar/With the boys that I loved”.
A steady beat frames the track, the synth ricocheting out from it like a ripple in a puddle.
The dreamy production in Between Oblivion makes for a break from Gleason’s vocal intensity, replacing it with gauzy synth, but not for too long – Brightly gets straight back into it with Untitled. A steady beat frames the track, the synth ricocheting out from it like a ripple in a puddle. With strong harmonies to support the melody, a track full of breathy, dreamy vocals proves to be just what the album needs.
In contrast, the dramatic edge to The Garden sounds almost like something out of The Phantom of the Opera, and Gleason’s steady vocals are enough to give Gerard Butler a run for his money. Thanks to Flume-escent production and a new melodic tack, the track’s last minute is unusual, ethereal, and bordering on extraterrestrial. Finishing strong, The Storm thrives on a driving synth rhythm, and although it doesn’t match the smooth vocals, the contrast creates the energetic lift the song needs. Another theatrical vocal performance reminiscent of The Killers, this track is full of opportunity for harmonies to blossom naturally from the melody.
Glowing with energy and ambition, ‘One For Sorrow, Two For Joy’ marks a third successful experiment for Brightly, and hopefully not the last.