Thank God for Bright Light Bright Light. It’s about time that someone made some quality pop music. Pop music that is fun, but still retains its self-respect and sophistication.
Bright Light Bright Light is, of course, the stage name for Rod Thomas’ pop project that aims to make you dance, smile and remember why you fell in love with pop music in the first place. His debut album Make Me Believe In Hope won him critical acclaim and a whole host of famous fans that range from Scissor Sisters to Elton John and secured him a supporting slot with Ellie Goulding. This second offering looks set to be Bright Light Bright Light’s best work yet.
The sound throughout the album owes much to late ’80s/early ’90s pop music. Take opening track Everything I Ever Wanted for example. Blasting straight off with synths and the low-key repetition of “everything I ever wanted”, it sounds as though it might be a long lost Pet Shop Boys track. The song then develops by adding layers of synths as a four-on-the-floor beat patters out below. It blooms and twinkles at every opportunity and soars into a musical blast of light and hope.
The whole album is littered with dancefloor fillers. There Are No Miracles is scattered with hand claps and another hard-hitting four-on-the-floor; it’s just one moment where it’s impossible not to be captivated by the catchy dance hooks and the stunning melodies. An Open Heart falls into this category as well, whilst still driving that ’80s melody and Casio keyboard vibe.
Then there is I Wish We Were Leaving, which features Elton John, and the Pinball Wizard’s contribution is a welcome addition. It’s a heartfelt track about separation and lost love, as they swoon “One day you will make somebody so happy/ But it won’t be me.” It sees the pair sharing verses, but both sing the chorus, and their voices compliment one another perfectly. It’s a sleek pop song that is driven by a ’90s dancefloor beat (even if it brings Daniel Bedingfield to mind.)
Yet, for all its ’80s and ’90s pop influence, nothing here sounds dated. It is perhaps Thomas’ skill as a producer and mixer that has allowed him to experiment further, as Good Luck is a much more contemporary affair than the previous half of the album. A club-friendly dance track, it channels Calvin Harris synth chords and Bastille energy, but at the same time still has that retro drive behind it.
In Your Care and Too Much further cement Thomas’ talent for diversity within a clever pop music template. He makes the layers sound deceptively simple, and the best pop songs are the simplest. Instead of overcomplicating the formula, he sticks to what works, and that is what makes this album stand out.
The collection of songs is brought to a close with standout track Happiness. Sporting a strong bassline, hi-hat percussion and pretty melodies, it’s a bittersweet track about love and loss and the ending of the relationship. You can imagine the mirrorball coming down at this point; this is a song that shimmies and shimmers, until it builds into an explosion of soulful pop magic. It’s another of those moments that demonstrates well Bright Light Bright Light’s talent for giving pop music a good name.