Brightest Darkest Day is the first joint effort from former He Say/She Say singer Drea Smith and OK Go's Tim Norwind, who in turn make-up Pyyramids; a brooding, gloomy two-piece who make pop music for the melancholic. For a band with its roots so deeply imbedded in the pop-rock realm, the duo clearly don't feel castrated by their past, but ultimately the poppier styles they have utilised before are still plainly scattered throughout the album.
These conflicting 'bright' and 'dark' elements that are forewarned in the title of the album make up the basis of Brightest Darkest Day and, despite their differing meanings, the end product isn't as confused an outcome as you might expect. On the contrary, the indie-electro-rock manages to make the album an easier experience to get through but, unfortunately, doesn't save it from being a rather unrewarding listen.
'Don't Go' and 'That Ain't Right' first appeared on the 2011 EP Human Beings and in two years the duo have seemingly decided to use these two relatively different tracks as the foundation for their output, blending indie melodies with futurist sensibilities. A timpani-like intro starts "Don't Go," filling out with a quarter-note bass riff and Smith's distinct vocals, creating a song reminiscent of avant-R&B act TheeSatisfaction. With 'That Ain't Right,' the repeated lyric of "I don't wanna break your heart" over the reverberating and sporadically placed chimes and gloomy acoustic 6-strick further exemplifies the dark yet bright tone of the album. 'Don't Go' stands out as the highlight of the album, and after two years of working from this it seems that the twosome still haven't decided what direction they want to take.
'Do You Think You're Enough,' with its fuzz-heavy bass riff taking centre stage, is the album heading down the rockier avenues you'd expect the whole project to retain (given the pair's musical background) and thank goodness it didn't because it is a style that tends to get old pretty quick. That sudden shift towards an acoustic ballad mid-song, though, rescues it from a similar fate and after taking a backseat, highlights the vocal capacity of Drea. It isn't the strongest or the prettiest, but it is voice that fits in perfectly with the altering tone of the album; one that is as suited to the more electronic elements of the album, as it is the guitar-heavy parts. In all, the stability of Drea's vocals is one of the highlights of an otherwise confusing listen.
In all, the album may have some highs, but it is mostly littered with false promises and disappointing turns of direction that whilst may have seemed cool and edgy in the studio, are rather predictive by the time the album reaches its end. Tracks like 'Smoke and Mirrors,' 'Paper Doll,' 'Invisible Scream' and album's closer 'Nothing I Can Say' never really go anywhere and the songs just stagnate rather than offer the exciting turn of pace the duo are presumably looking for. Just by turning up the volume a little bit and going towards an 'edgier' sound doesn't mean the song will benefit at all; if anything, it does the opposite and prompts the listener to either turn down their speakers or switch to the next song.
Whilst never dull, Brightest Darkest Day is never an attention-grabbing listen. Parts of it pick up your ears, but these rarely last long enough to keep you hooked for the full length of the song, which, given the longest song on the album is just over four-minutes, isn't exactly a good thing. Still, as a first attempt from a group that may have other projects on their mind, the album is an encouraging one, but the duo are at a crossroads now and need to choose their path wisely if they are to make a follow-up that will be worth anyone's time.
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