NEWSFLASH: EDM is not always synonymous with the banal, the boringly mainstream or the downright awful.
Bright Light Bright Light (a.k.a Rod Thomas) continues to defy expectations with his second full-length LP. This is intelligently crafted electro sad-pop, that marries dance-influenced production with excellent songwriting. But then it would have to be to count Elton John as a fan, right?
The sound of ‘Life Is Easy’ follows last year’s ‘Make Me Believe In Hope’. This isn’t strictly EDM. Instead, it’s closer to pop that wouldn’t sound out of place on the dancefloor. There’s an 80s retro feel to much of the production too that ensures Thomas is essentially the new Pet Shop Boys – his restrained vocal only underlines this.
That said, this isn’t aimed strictly at a mainstream audience either. The songwriting is more concerned with sentiment and emotion than melody-writing amongst all the bleeps and bloops. As a whole, the album does become a little repetitive, leaving you wishing there were a few more obvious pop hooks thrown in for good measure.
Yet it’s that timeless combination of uptempo production and heartfelt lyrics that makes Bright Light Bright Light’s music some of the best dancefloor sad-pop since Robyn’s Dancing On My Own. A major highlight is I Wish We Were Leaving that features vocals from Elton John: like his own Your Song and its “I hope you don’t mind that I put down in words” lyric, this track relies on a simple and direct lyric to rupture the heart, “one day you’ll make somebody so happy, but it won’t be me”. The song crescendoes with a euphoric surge that cannot fail to put shivers down the spine.
It’s followed by the affirmative An Open Heart, where Thomas urges his lover to “make yourself believe in all the love that comes to an open heart”, whilst Good Luck is a semi-sequel to the Basement Jaxx track of the same name spitting out “good luck being lonely” over funky house beats. Later there's the heavily dancefloor influenced I Believe and its simple but effective chorus ("I don't know what you've done to me, but I believe"), whilst More Than Most is a gloriously upbeat track with glittering synths and backing gospel harmonies.
The lyric "life is easy" is repeated throughout, perhaps ironically for all the heartache, but as a whole the album is a glossy, polished and effortless collection of pop songs. Far from robotic EDM, the emotional songwriting elevates the music with a huge beating heart.
* I Wish We Were Leaving
* An Open Heart
* More Than Most
Listen: 'Life Is Easy' is available now.