BC Camplight is the sardonic, slightly bruised alter ego of Brian Christinzio, a former New Jerseyian now relocated in Manchester, via stints playing with Stateside indie cause celebres Sharon Van Etten and The War On Drugs. Whilst the latter's hazy take on blue collar rock continues to find a fuzzy glow in even the stoniest critic's heart, BC arrived in the North of England after finding that his life had imitated that of John Grant's art: haunted by an adolescence spent with bouts of depression and hypochondria, Grant's win against dependency is something from which he draws inspiration.
'How To Die In The North' is a title then to be viewed with a large Mancunian dollop of perspective, given that it deliberately belies a love for the city which continues to embrace occasional boho troubadours like Nancy Elizabeth. This duplicity is, however, very fitting if used as a stylistic barometer for its songs, as Christinzio throughout takes a particularly familiar sound and applies a sub-layer of darkness that nestles just beneath, much like the rest of the shark under the fin.
What this means is that we get some obvious touch points - opener 'You Should Have Gone To School' reprises the imperious pop-psychedelia of The Shins in their 'Wincing The Night Away' period - but the lyrical self deprecation of Grant is absent. What there is a match for though, is in an ability to subvert the form: the MOR schmaltz and cheesy harmonies of 'Just Because I Love You' sounds like Air in far too much taffeta, but the subject seems to be only distantly related to relationships, with the singer dolefully saying "I'm so lonely and broken" and that all this effort for "Such an ugly girl". And we thought romance was dead.
Continue reading: BC Camplight - How To Die In The North Album Review