On the strength of two shimmering singles released earlier this year, Melbourne resident and multi-instrumentalist Brigitte Bardini announced herself as a prodigious talent in the independent music scene in Australia, a fact confirmed by the release of her debut album ‘Stellar Lights’.
This is a sparkling collection of exquisite dream pop finery: spread across 14 tracks (including five bonus tracks) of impressive music, mostly written, played and produced by Bardini herself. Bardini’s voice is an enigma: soft velvet and distant with an ethereal shine. There is no stylistic rigor mortis – the songs range from disco-inflected pop, dream pop fugues and shoegaze blasts to pastoral, reflective movements that are psychedelic and cinematic.
Bardini says of the songs:
The thing I learnt in creating these songs was to always be honest. No matter how silly it may sound, or how brutal it may sound, how over-dramatic, just be honest. I knew that would work. Because I can always hear in a song when I’m not being honest. You can tell in your head when you’re holding back something. I always make something that’s the best when I’m hitting a nerve.
The veracity and emotion are written deeply in the genetic code of every track on this wondrous album.
Opening track (and single) ‘Heartbreaker’ is a smooth, gurgling dream pop delight that coasts along on a bed of bubbling electronica, creating an ethereal and transfixing fugue. The soundscapes painted by Bardini are rich and lush: many layers of sounds and effects mix and melt together into something hypnotic while Bardini’s vocals are soft and enchanting as she repeats the lines Oh could you be my heartbreaker like a mantra designed to lull you into a reverie.
The themes reflect universal anxiety. Bardini says of the track:
‘Heartbreaker’ is about having something very special in your life and exploring that hypothetical situation in your mind that you might lose that thing. A lyric like ‘I don’t want to lose my future to my past’ really captures that anxiety of lingering on past events and catastrophising about future events, and just trying to do my best to live in the moment.
Second track (and also a single) ‘Wild Ride’ is another wholly impressive track filled this time with a sense of optimism and resilience. Indeed the themes are personal. Bardini says of the lyrics:
(this)…is a coming of age track written about my decision to take a risk and pursue music full time. It’s very fitting as I feel like it symbolises my entering further into the music industry, and is an opportunity for my audience to get to know me on a more intimate level due to the confessional lyrics.
It’s a track that really took on a mind of its own, becoming relevant at every crossroad that has presented itself since I wrote the demo. It holds a great significance to me as it’s an open book and offers me nothing to hide behind, so I see it as a powerful tool to grow as a person and as an artist.
The result is a fitting display of Bardini’s musical and lyrical talents.
The jangling guitars lines are swept on a wave of synths and strings, providing a sweeping vista for Bardini’s gorgeous vocals to glide over. Infused with melancholia, for sure, and yet powerful and declarative: a statement of intent.
I’m out of my mind
out of my head
I just gotta let this wild ride take me instead
And this becomes a recurrent theme in Bardini’s music: cinematic in scope with a wide-screen vision and bathed in lush colours and textures.
‘Everyday’ has a vibrant, indelible synth spine riff and a blistering anthemic pace, contrasted by Bardini’s laid back, louche vocals, inflected with melody and yearning. ‘Inside Your Head’ floats dreamingly with slightly discordant synth wobbles like a psychedelic trip. Vocal layers float across the sky in tune with the lyrics, creating a hypnotic fugue. ‘Made of Gold’ haunts with a high drone and muscular bass. Bardini’s voice is almost chilling and emotionless in its gentleness.
And when Bardini takes a more acoustic turn, she does it with an enigmatic style – ‘All My Life’ is relatively sparse and reflective: a beautiful angelic piece that rings out with crystal sharp guitars. ‘Breathe’ is folk-inflected with a touch of a medieval, pastoral air: gentle, rhythmic with sweeping strings and a wandering piano.
‘Aphrodite’ simmers along on a frenetic syncopated beat while Bardini’s vocals are floating and filled with soul, while ‘Feel My Love’ is an epic ballad that drips with sincerity and emotion on a bed of synths.
Bardini’s voice is, indeed, stellar – ‘Could’ve Been’ is heartbreakingly beautiful with its sixties instrumentation and melancholy air and ‘Moving On’ is filled with mesmerising beats and a wrenching melancholy.
‘Stellar Lights’ is quite simply a magnificent album, a fact made all the more incredible given it is Bardini’s debut. It is out now through Ruby Valley Records, available through all the usual download/streaming sources here or though the link below.