You’d be forgiven for thinking that the name Brightlight City sounds familiar, even if it’s difficult to place exactly where from. They released their EP Our Future’s Not Dead in 2017 at a time when floods of new Britrock bands were scrambling to claim their place on the other side of the genre’s closing door, which is something that this band never really accomplished. They at least had positive signs with a well-documented influence from 2000s post-hardcore and Britrock’s earlier waves that definitely bled through, but all that led to was a release that was generally decent without ever standing out all that much. Honestly, there’s more interest in the fact that a debut full-length is even being released at all; oftentimes, bands of this relatively low standing seldom get past a couple of EPs at very most, so it’s at least interesting to see that Brightlight City have enough faith to extrapolate their ideas into a larger context and invite a deeper discussion.
And to be fair, they’ve actually done a pretty good job here. The Harmony & The Chaos is by no means a game changer, but as an attempt at moving away from humble Britrock beginnings and towards something with a bit more meat and flavour, Brightlight City are certainly putting their best foot forward here. This does feel like a necessary step up, and even if they bigger ambitions don’t always find stable ground to land on, there’s a lot worth appreciating here, if only because Brightlight City have avoided true banality in favour of something a lot more adventurous.
And even with that, it’s worth immediately getting out of the way that The Harmony & The Chaos isn’t quite a fantastic effort across the board. That’s only really because, with Brightlight City’s propensity for pop hooks and vocal harmonies pitted against chunkier riffs with a slightly spikier edge, the natural comparisons to Press To MECO are welcomed, and that doesn’t really do this album any favours. It can definitely feel a bit too stodgy in places to suitably live up to that, and while what’s offered here is certainly good, it can feel slightly dragged down by heavier production that doesn’t always feel like the strongest approach. That being said though, taken as an independent entity, The Harmony & The Chaos is a rather consistent extension of an alt-rock formula that definitely unearths some nice ideas. For one, the aforementioned harmonies give this a sense of theatricality that’s prominent but never overblown, particularly on the soaring melodic fragments on You’ll Get What’s Coming and Beneath The Tidal Wave that are nicely evened out by Jamie Giarraputo’s more brash vocal delivery. It’s all a surprisingly smooth pairing, something that doesn’t change with a canvas of crunchier guitar leads like on Statues And Monuments that caps off a resoundingly solid package overall. It’s hardly pushing boundaries, but Brightlight City are definitely weaving in some greater inspiration into their brand of alt-rock, as well as more pronounced, intelligent lyrical content ranging from fake news on Feast On Fear to government corruption on Songs Of Dissent and outdated views towards immigration and modern ideals on You’ll Get What’s Coming. There’s definitely more going on here than with a more standard Britrock release, and Brightlight City usually feel all the stronger for it.
There’s definitely still room for improvement, mind, and continuing to develop their sound will see more benefits come to fruition, but this is a remarkably solid first album that really lays down the foundations for something great to come. What could’ve easily been a solid but ultimately disposable Britrock album instead has much more longevity and openness to grow, and the fact that Brightlight City are embracing that so early is definitely worth commending. The Harmony & The Chaos mightn’t be a staple of the genre in terms of experimentation, but it’s a good step forward, and at this stage, that counts for a lot.
For fans of: Biffy Clyro, Press To MECO, Hundred Reasons
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘The Harmony & The Chaos’ by Brightlight City is released on 17th May on Undead Collective Records.