Album Reviews

Brigade – Lights

(vik bansal) UK release date: 29 May 2006


There is a point in Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park when the narrator states that: “The younger brother must help to pay for the pleasures of the elder.”

How apt a quotation for the Simpson family of Suffolk. Littl’un Charlie foists (or should that be Fausts?) himself upon the masses in Busted and though he almost loses his soul to the pre-pubescent pop devil, his sacrifice leads to a high profile for his new rock venture Fightstar and allows him to take his big brother’s band Brigade along for the ride.

Not that Brigade need it, mind. Well, at least they wouldn’t if PR, record labels, radio and luck didn’t matter and it sufficed to release high-quality albums in order to make it in the music industry.

For Lights is a surprisingly assured, sterling and ambitious record – regardless of whether the lead singer is related to someone whose over-endowed eyebrows used to make little girls go weak at their knobbly knees.

In truth, there isn’t a duff track here. The squalling guitar intro to Magneto hints that a storm is brewing but not at how twisting, sometimes violent yet alluring that storm is. In fact, listening to Lights may just be the musical equivalent of tornado chasing – a bit crazy perhaps, but a rush, nonetheless.

The aforementioned Magneto is a highlight, with thick, heavy riffs and a semi-epic feel taking it stratospherically beyond any accusations that Brigade are finding emo. Will Simpson’s voice has a definite Brian Molko timbre to it and although it’s a tad adenoidal, somehow it works when juxtaposed with the percussive, crashing instrumentation provided by Simpson’s colleagues James Plant, Naoto Hori and Fim.

Meet At My Funeral is catchy and shouty; Assemble / Dissemble grungy and memorable; I’ll Be Your Emergency soaring and harmonic; Queenie savage and swirling; while closing number Hits The Scrapes hits the heights by riding on more delicate, progressive thermals.

Add to all this a razor-sharp production job courtesy of Joe Gibb at Mighty Atom studios and you can say that Brigade have all the elements for a bright future and a good-humoured Simpson sibling rivalry.

In short, give Lights a listen. Otherwise you’ll find yourself quoting from the most famous Simpson of all: “Doh!”


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