Friday, June 8, 2012

Record review: The Bright White - 'Lose Yourself'

By Frank Krolicki

"I want my turn," declares The Bright White's frontman Matthew Kayser in "Ready to Burn," the fourth track off the band's new record Lose Yourself. On paper, it's a simple statement. Listen to the music, though, and you know he really, really means it.

The Bright White make power pop music, with the power part made bold and underlined. This is a band that sounds hungry. Starving, even. For every catchy chorus and guitar hook, there's a sense of urgency--almost a ferocity--that goes along with it to make it clear that they know exactly what they want to do and do it that way, not really caring if it follows a popular indie music trend or not.

The seven-track Lose Yourself comes off like a continuation of the band's 2011 debut EP Until Then, only now the sound is bigger, the intensity amped up. Opening track "Mary Anne" ventures down a bit of a darker path than any that the band has taken before, with lyrics that deal with loneliness and desperation (but also encouragement) paired with full-on guitar, percussion and vocals. The title track has a more "up" sound, featuring ringing guitars, a high-flying melody and a suggestion from Kayser to "come on, get overwhelmed" and to "just lose yourself," coming across like a call to arms to shed inhibitions and fears, to take a chance. But there's also a sense of world-weariness, as the song ends with a refrain of "this is wearing me out"-- a statement that anyone should be able to relate to living in the world today. It's the kind of thing that made me start loving bands like Big Star and Badfinger; it's rooted in pop, but doesn't shy away from the sort of honesty and reality that can make the experience of listening to music genuinely cathartic.

Another highlight is the aforementioned "Ready to Burn," a jolt of motivation in three minutes and 19 seconds that makes you want to get up and take on the world by the time it's over. If there were a musical equivalent to a 5-hour Energy shot, this would be it. The rest of the tracks are strong as well; "Long Live Young Love" and "13 Years" have killer riffs (with some darker, post-punk leanings on "13 Years"), while "Go Where You Want" and "These Are the Days" close out the record by mixing up all of the various elements found on the previous tracks into a unified whole, culminating with a huge chorus on "Days" that provides a proper sendoff.

Having to grow to love an album can be rewarding, but I typically find the ones I come back to most often are the ones that grab me right away. Lose Yourself did. Everything here is massive--the vocals, the playing, the hooks. It's the sound of band's that's not trying too hard to play it cool; The Bright White really want you to hear them and they want you to know it. Do yourself a favor and listen.

The Bright White are playing a record release show for Lose Yourself on Saturday, June 9th at Quenchers, and you'll also be able to catch them on July 7th at Double Door. For now you can stream the record via Bandcamp. Check out one of the tracks below.

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