BC Camplight – How To Die In The North

We all love a good comeback story. Is there anything that stirs the soul more than tales of triumph over adversity? New Jersey born song-writer Brian Christinzio (aka BC Camplight) has quite the tale to tell. His first two albums (released in 2005 and 2007) were hugely acclaimed; Christinzio’s flair for writing naggingly addictive melodic tunes was immediately apparent, but just when things seemed set for take off, BC Camplight fell off the radar.

Disenchanted and dejected, Christinzio retreated and what followed was a dizzying spiral into alcohol and drug abuse, depression and temporary homelessness. Moving to Manchester in 2011 might have seemed like a hopeless last ditch attempt to turn things around, but it’s from there that this most unlikely comeback story started to follow a different narrative.

The move sparked a period of creativity that resulted in the ironically titled How To Die in the North, an album that marks a spectacular return to form and hopefully, a change in fortunes for this talented songwriter. How To Die in the North is an album of wonderfully skewed pop music, sounding like Pet Sound’s weird younger brother filled with sun-kissed melodies, celestial harmonies and oddly brilliant instrumental flourishes. It’s the little musical surprises and quirky, sometimes biting lyrical sound bites that prevents it from degenerating into some kind of 60s Beach Boys pastiche.

The music might sound bathed in the afterglow of the summer of love, but this is completely at odds with Christinzio’s sometimes pessimistic if not downright jaundiced outlook on matters of the heart. On the closing track he poses the question ‘Why Doesn’t Anybody Fall in Love Anymore?’ against the backdrop of dramatic piano chords and his soaring falsetto – the effect is semi-cheesy, but the question is left hanging in the air.

‘Love Isn’t Anybody’s Fault’ beautifully and lovingly recreates the gorgeous arrangements of Pet Sound’s era Beach Boys, complete with Carol Kaye style bassline, a notable and hugely positive feature of the sound throughout this album. The obsession with the ‘L’ word continues on the saccharine sweet soul pop of ‘Just Because I Love You’, a song destined to be a shower singer’s anthem if ever there was one.

Hummable pop tunes abound; ‘Grim Cinema’ starts off as a hushed acoustic whisper before bursting into 60s psych-rock life; ‘Thieves In Antigua’ has THAT bass sound again and is another standout on a record overflowing with them. Nine tracks, forty one minutes and as soon as the last notes die away, you want to do it all again.

With ‘How To Die in the North’ BC Camplight has delivered pop music’s boldest and brightest statement of the year so far – it’s an album brimming with sparkling melodies, inventive arrangements and offbeat moments.

Magnificent.

 

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)