Could ‘Choreography’ be the perfect title for Welsh electronic singer/songwriter Rod Thomas AKA Bright Light Bright Light’s third album? Why? Well first of all it goes perfectly with the gloriously eighties inspired styling of the album; from the fashions, to the artwork, to the big synth sounds that have already dominated all his albums to date. There is no doubt a lot of influence on the album from early eighties synth-pop bands like The Human League, The Pet Shop Boys and Soft Cell. But what really makes ‘Choreography’ the perfect album title is simply because it is packed with tunes that make you want to move. You only have to listen to the power-pop first single ‘All In The Name’ to see that.
This is the follow up to 2014’s ‘Life Is Easy’. This time he comes back with a load of friends. Not unusually with Elton John, who he previously teamed up with on ‘I Wish We Were Leaving’. There are a couple of tracks with him, and both show the natural chemistry the two seem to have; like one generation passing his tracks down to the next. But there are also collaborations with Jake Sheers and Ana Matronic from the Scissor Sisters, and the merging of their two styles fits perfectly. But more unusually there’s his team up with actor Alan Cummings on ‘Home’. I know what you’re thinking. This is going to be the campest album you’ve ever heard. And it is in parts, but in a brilliant, cool and credible way.
The two offerings you can hear from the album up front couldn’t be more different. ‘All In The Name’ was the first release. It’s a high energy pop song that gets stuck in your head from the first listen. It uses more traditional instruments than his usual electronic crying-at-the-discoteque sound. Then there’s ‘Little Bit’, one of the slower tracks toward the end of the album where the majority of the ballads reside. Hidden amongst the big pop tracks, it would be easy to write this off simply as a dance record. They’re the songs that grab you first, and pull you in. But this is a more complete work than anything else he has previously made. The natural beauty arrives later on, on tracks such as ‘Careful Whisper’ and ‘Little Bit’. These are the tracks that after several listens I keep going back to. ‘Choreography’ mixes genres up more than he has on his previous works, fusing pop (Symmetry Of Two Hearts), disco (I Only Want To Please You) and full on electro-trance (Into The Night – which is totally the album’s highlight in my humble opinion). But it doesn’t really matter what tempo he sets. All the tracks have a common thread, as they always do; Thomas both as a vocalist and a lyricist seems to fill each and every one with huge amounts of emotional depth. But what makes it even more astonishing is the ease at which he seems to do so. There are no big power-house riffs. He’s just got it, and it comes out along with his personality in every song.
Pop music has never been the ‘coolest’ of genres, but Bright Light Bright Light is doing what so many others are doing at the moment and fighting back. He’s doing this by producing clever, well written songs, and matching them up with clean, perfectly produced tracks. The collaborations are well chosen, and each one adds something special. It’s not just the big names like Elton, but also the likes of Mykal Kilgore, who adds a little soul to ‘Won’t Do’. With each album getting that little bit better than its predecessor, it was difficult to see how he could top ‘Life Is Easy’. But that’s exactly what he’s done.
‘Choreography’ is out on 15th July.
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