There’s just about no-one else that I could say put me in mind of discredited prog rockers Emerson Lake and Palmer, and it would be a good thing. For Milwaukee’s Brief Candles I will make an exception. The reason is the sense of drift, hanging somewhere between rock and ambient (gosh I’m down with the 70’s terminology today). It’s at its most apparent in ‘Sink Or Swim’ with its gorgeous wowing and wavering lead in, but the feeling keeps blowing in all over the record.
Brief Candles have been waiting fully 5 years to get ‘Fractured Candles’ out there. There are two voices on the record, but like the amount of the earth’s surface covered by water, it feels like 80% of the record is swamped in instrumentals. I haven’t had a stop watch out, but that’s the feeling. It’s no bad thing at all, there are enough islands of words to provide continual interest for someone who might eschew a total instrumental. The voices belong to Jen Boniger and Kevin Dixon. Both are affecting singers, but Jen’s voice is like looking out of the aeroplane window and seeing silver rays bouncing between storm clouds above and below. The clouds here are squall, but with chimes and melody thrown in. I was totally wrong in the first line if I gave the impression this was prog per se – it’s more out in the hinterland somewhere between Death In Vegas and Raveonettes – but that sensibility remains so I’ll let it stand. There are some great lines in there, stories of first hearing ‘Come On Eileen’. You can’t tell tales like that and not be accused of being 80’s referential, but what the heck, it’s a great way to get some emotional engagement, and the sense of nostalgia somehow works. That it also comes on beautiful swirly blue and white vinyl is just a big bonus.
They’re on Guilt Ridden Pop, out of Minnesota, who I have to say have barely put a foot wrong in the last year
See, I never said ‘shoegaze’ once in the whole review!