London-based electro pop maker, Bright Light Bright Light, is back on our radar with his second album Life Is Easy, and this time his disco moments glow with a warm, loved-up energy.
BLBL is the moniker of Rod Thomas, the triple-threat singer/songwriter/producer who caught our attention two years ago with his confidently composed debut album, Make Me Believe in Hope.
After a stint in New York last year, where he played sold-out shows and earned kudos in Billboard Magazine as a “bubbling under” artist to watch for, Rod is now back with a new body of work that stays faithful to his late 80s and early 90s electro pop oeuvre.
The productions are more subtle on Life Is Easy, which isn’t to say there’s a limited supply of ear candy.
The single ‘I Believe’, produced by Rod and The Invisible Men (who have carved big records for Iggy Azalea and Jessie J), is a technicolour dance track about being in love. It’s straightforward, it’s bubbly and on paper, it sounds like a copious amount of cheese but somehow Rod gets away with it.
His giddying lyrics that detail the symptoms of being in love is so vivid, cynics might say it’s even strong enough to relight a fire in the ashiest of hearts. Rod sings, “Every breath that you take, brings down the stars so close that I can see them. Making my life like a dream. Turning it up so loud that I can feel it, moves through the heart of me. So now when I say I’m in love, I can mean it”.
The euphoric track may be a stark contrast to the cold and disconnected mood stirring in Rod’s last album, but what it’s done is highlight his ability to write brilliant, uplifting tunes that are still just as eloquent and poignant as his darker songs. Some artists struggle to write when they’re happy. Others clearly have the gift of expression, come rain or shine.
‘I Wish We Were Leaving‘ (featuring the legendary Elton John) captures the feeling of unrequited love with a cinematic touch. The frosty ballad sounds like a lost Pet Shop Boys single with its tear-streaked lines like, “One day you’ll make somebody so happy but it won’t be me… you’ll be turning their grey skies blue like I’d do for you, if you’d only let me.”
The only challenge with Life Is Easy is a lot of the songs share the same melodic vibrance and they come across as too samey, which makes the first run-through of the album a bit tedious.
Some songs will open up to you quicker than others but the most endearing are the ones with life-affirming lyrics like ‘More Than Most’ and ‘An Open Heart’, which is like an 80s pop ballad with the emotional intelligence of Oprah.
Rod comes over like a dear friend to pull you out from under the duvet and sit you down with a warm cup of Horlicks for some real talk. “Couldn’t you see? You almost had a real thing. How could it be? You’re still hiding in the dark. Let yourself feel and make yourself believe in all the love that comes to an open heart,” he sings. In other words, “Get your life, girlfriend!”.
There is no harm in retaining faultless consistency in your work but Bright Light Bright Light could well be preaching to the converted with Life Is Easy. Where some pop artists are keen on keeping up with trends, Rod seems comfortable sticking with ingredients that have worked for him.
It will be nice to hear him step out of his comfort zone on the next album and explore different regions of the electronic music realm. With his A-grade songwriting abilities and sincere vocal delivery, surely Bright Light Bright Light can afford to take flight with more adventurous productions and feel confident it will always land.
Stand out tracks: ‘I Believe’, ‘An Open Heart’, ‘Too Much’ and ‘I Wish We Were Leaving’.