Album Review: Brightr – Year One

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As Brightr, Laurie Cottingham makes a brand of acoustic twinkle-infused heartfelt music that he describes as ‘gloomy emo pop’. His songs, however, are anything but gloomy; on his debut release “Year One“, Brightr pours his soul into 13 tracks punctuated by crisp (one could even say bright, but we’ll try not to) guitar tones and noodling riffs that betray his skill as both a musician and songwriter. Read the full review below.

On a first listen, “Year One” immediately draws oft-made comparisons to Into It. Over It. to mind. Both artists embrace intertwined and melodic guitar and vocal lines, Brightr’s skill at doing so being especially evident on late-album cut “Yikes!“. The track is gorgeous; Cottingham makes great use of his lower register in musing money-line “I’m desperate for you to inspire some peace of mind” before turning to the standard belting vocals that are prevalent through most of the album. This lyrical desperation seems apparent in his delivery, full of emotion that throws thoughts of more punk-rock leaning groups such as Weatherbox or Lower Than Atlantis into frame. “Like Paper” is another highlight, featuring a vocal high that breaks through the ceiling of expectation in the record.

1. We
2. Sleight of Hand
3. Pavement
4. Lanterns
5. Like Paper
6. You Wish You Were Here
7. Clearly More Ruined Than Rome
8. Alright, Okay
9. Yikes!
10. Sleeping For The Week
11. Sick Note
12. Incredible Pens

Despite Brightr’s skill as an acoustic composer, the sparsity of his tracks may retract from the potential of his music slightly. Although his style of playing is very percussive, “Year One” seems a little barren in places – most of the tracks feature just Cottingham’s voice and guitar, with the album’s finest moments coming in with snappy percussion in the back end of “Yikes!” and pseudo-closer “Incredible Pens“. Ultimately, though, it’s at no real detriment to the release – with songs like opener “We” carrying electrifyingly warm riffs that rival any Kinsella‘s work, the album does just fine without.

Following on from that, “Incredible Pens” deserves another mention. The song truly lives up to its name; despite clocking in at just under one and a half minutes, it manages to squeeze in beaming synths and trumpet riffs backed by Cottingham’s jumping lyrical flow. It pulls from space all the elements that seemed absent before, bringing “Year One” to a triumphant close – or almost close, as keen listeners will notice a toned-down hidden track placed at the back end of the record. Brightr saves his two big hitters until the very end, but still puts across a wonderfully warm and well-constructed record, expressing in his own words a soft melancholy feeling; “we are adept at speaking doubt.”

4 star rating
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