Practiced in My Bloody Valentine’s bewitching knack of creating music so layered that it nearly evaporates off into contradictory airy and aggressive beauty, Brief Candles’ latest, Fractured Days, might be considered a weighty affair with its melting guitars, heart-heavy bass lines, and swirling atmospherics. It’s an earful without a ton of breathing room, yet the music’s honest appeal never lets it sink too heavily or take on any shade of gratuitous moodiness. Mere wistfulness rides the fader on this one.
The album’s single, “Small Streets,” has guitarists Kevin Dixon and Jennifer Boniger-Dixon singing, “In 1983, when we first heard ‘Come On Eileen,’ / I knew that you could see and you could understand. / We knew the same small streets, the same small towns, the same small creeps, / and we knew that we would leave or die by our own hands.” Small town dramatics are what bind Brief Candles’ music with ’90s lyrical romance, appealing to anyone with a sentimental mindset. The prominence of lyrics on the majority of Fractured Days does that mood justice, etching out the bittersweet instances of fleeting summer days. Even songs that aren’t spot-on (“Skylark”) sound indispensable to the collective body, creating a breath to lead into heavy-hitters such as “The Completist.”
Trading tracks back and forth with everyone from Chicago’s Greg Norman to Jeff Zeigler (Kurt Vile, Pattern Is Movement), Adam Pierce (The Swirlies, Mice Parade), and Neil Weir (Vampire Hands, Gospel Gossip), the end result is equal parts vividly angled-out and woozily blurred-up. It’s also a total recall to the likeminded Swirlies, a band equally compared to My Bloody Valentine for its pedal-happy guitar sounds. The addition of more prominent vocals in the mix pushes both Fractured Days and Brief Candles even further to the side of The Swirlies. Dixon and Boniger-Dixon’s exchange of straightforward and subsequently natural, sweet vocals propel the band forward into new territory, satisfyingly anchored by the band’s hallmark contributions of Drew Calvetti on bass and Jake Bohannan on drums. It’s a nice way to be for a band on such a hiatus: familiar and still exciting.
Brief Candles celebrate the release of Fractured Days Sunday, August 21 at the Cactus Club.