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Bright Light Bright Light “Life Is Easy” – Album Review

Self Raising (2014)

Responsible for arguably the best synth-pop album of 2012 with Make Me Believe In Hope, Welsh singer-songwriter Rod Thomas certainly has a lot to live up to with Life Is Easy, the second record released under his Gremlins-inspired moniker Bright Light Bright Light.

The recruitment of The Invisible Men, the production team behind massive hits by Jessie J and Iggy Azalea, Scissor Sisters’ Del Marquis and none other than pop legend Sir Elton John, initially suggests that the 31-year-old may have eschewed the subtleties of his debut in favour of chasing that commercial breakthrough which has so far proven to be frustratingly elusive.

But thankfully, with the exception of “I Believe,” a hands-in-the-air EDM-tinged anthem which veers a little too close to Calvin Harris territory, Bright Light Bright Light has wisely decided to keep plugging away with the same kind of beautifully melancholic early 90s-inspired electro-pop that made Life Is Easy’s predecessor such an unexpected joy.

His duet with the Rocket Man, “I Wish We Were Leaving,” an emotive tale of two lovers reluctantly and amicably waving goodbye to their relationship, set against a backdrop of haunting choral vocals, skittering rhythms and atmospheric synths, inevitably provides one of the album’s highlights. But the gorgeously bittersweet “In Your Care” and bubbling Technicolor synth-pop of “An Open Heart” also prove that few can work the whole “crying at the discotheque” angle much better.

Elsewhere, “Good Luck” is a retro club classic-meets-vindictive riposte to an ex which hints that despite his nice-guy exterior, Thomas isn’t a man to be messed with. “Lust For Life” combines Broadway melodies with shimmering electronica on an unashamedly theatrical number which couldn’t be further removed from the Iggy Pop standard of the same name. And closing track “Happiness” is a convincing foray into moody chillout reminiscent of The Beloved’s after-hours staple “Sweet Harmony.”

If anything, Life Is Easy might just be a little too elegant and understated to give Bright Light Bright Light that mainstream crossover he deserves. But old-school ravers who now prefer their dance music with a touch of class will find plenty to enjoy.

3.5 / 5 stars     

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About the Author

on MUSIC IS MY OXYGEN WEEKLY.

Jon O'Brien's love of music began as a six-year-old after becoming bizarrely transfixed with the 80s poodle rock of Heart, Europe and Def Leppard. Switching his attention to pop icon Michael Jackson, he then became addicted to the UK Top 40, becoming a rather pointless walking Wikipedia of chart positions in the process. Driving his poor neighbors up the wall while learning to play the drums as a teen, he toyed with the idea of becoming a musician, but in studying Journalism at the University of Central Lancashire, he realized heÕd rather write about music than perform it. Since then, he's written thousands of reviews and biographies on everything from bubblegum pop to death metal, but electronica remains his main passion, with everything from Aphex Twin to Zero 7 in his spare room-consuming record collection. Jon resides in northwest England near Liverpool.

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