Our debut album released 9th March 2015.
So just how am I meant to describe a refreshingly unique blend of wonderful pop, soaring melodies, worship anthems, lean back electric guitar solos, string quartets and pumping drums? Dare I say it made me think I was watching all 40 Eurovision entries squeezed into a perfectly executed selection of 10 songs? If so, the UK might just win with the Southampton based The Bright Expression.
There’s something wonderful about being given some music to review when pre-internet search you don’t know anything about who is singing and performing it. With only the titles to go on, I ran into this ball pit of discovery, coming up for air at regular intervals, shouting for others to jump in. Any album that starts with a track called "Dancing" fills me with a little trepidation, but the fun-feel to it made me loosen up a little. Be honest though any band with a name of “The Bright Expression” is going to be energetic isn't it?
"Kingdom of Light” keeps us moving, starting with rolling drums that have the hint of a rock band's smelly armpit before levelling out into wonderfully crunchy pop. “Consume Me Again” is like a pop song we think we've heard but haven't really, starting with a string quartet over a eurobeat “kick drum that beats inside my chest” and bursts of a trumpety-synthy-vibe, like some mashup of the Radio 1 and 2 playlists. “Bone by Bone” brings us haunting piano and echoed snare: a song of intimacy, as the title would suggest, and is sung that way as a small collection of strings soar underneath, but never over-power, the beautiful male and female harmonised vocal. "Gravity" cleverly explains how the volume of God’s love draws and pulls us closer; again those male and female vocals merging and sharing well.
There is so much in here: it's like wandering around a record shop (remember those?) and having to keep going up to the counter to ask "what's this playing?" So don't expect a collection of songs that leave you with an overall sound to define. Instead understand the sound is defined by its wide variation. Musically we're bounced along on a marvellous join-in adventure, blending moments from dad's saved-up-for-record-collection with a teenager's more current and open approach to music sharing. The lyrics are consistently focussed on God's love, strength, power and how we interact with them, and are honest, personal and easy to identify with and will get even better with age, experience and further albums.
I could have written a whole review on "Doing a New Thing”. "Deep within my soul this song will rise: I am yet to see you part the waters but I know you'll lead me safe to shore". A worship song about love, restoration, and hope simply served over a weebly-warbly organ, and caressed strings. I’ve got a sneaky suspicion that the naturally-phrased vocal hook “Doing a new thing in me” came out of a spontaneous worship moment, as it has all the evidence of a Heaven-sent phrase for us all to say in the shower, sing in the car, whisper at the checkout, shout out on the riverbank when you’re walking the dog, murmur when you’re making the drinks for your work colleagues, as well as writing on the back of coffee shop napkins. The song breaks for some fragile guitar and a gentle wash of cymbals, followed by the most sublime of moments, when The Bright Expression re-assure that "When the day rests, and the sun sets: everything will be made new". My advice is listen to it: but the reality is you won’t as you will instead be singing along with it completely immersed in the moments of worship it promises.
Consistently throughout the album, these talented musicians graciously work together, stepping into, but never dominating or hogging, the spotlight. Bradley Evans patiently waits for his crafted head-back solo moment on “Resurrect Me” before fading out for a sound-proofed repeated vocal of "coming alive in You". Similarly vocalist Leigh Patching holds out for the final quarter of Gravity before she brings out a red button-pressing chair swivelling moment. "Louder" has echoes of those times we older people call the 80s and is sung with a hope, excitement and a twinkle in the eye. There’s another gorgeous guitar solo by the way: the sound, the notes, the bends: if you don’t own a guitar, borrow a tennis racquet to mime to it as you jump and down on your bed. But mind your head. Artex ceilings hurt.
The whole album is delivered with a balance of infectious, energetic confident praise and passionate head bowing worship, maintaining a smile on its face with a hint of musical mischievousness. Each time I thought I knew where we were going, we’d be led off somewhere else, like chasing a four year old around a toy warehouse, this must have been fun and draining project to create and record.
We may have started the album dancing, but we end on our faces, as we close with the slow-burning "Hidden Place", that transports us through cathedral courts of delicately liquid-dipped guitars and slow building drums, pausing slightly before rising to a quite stunning crescendo of trumpet, pads, swirling organ and battle drum rhythms, a theatrical film score that captures heavenly scenes and moments we will one day taste.
Like shoving all your Christmas sweets in your mouth in one go before breakfast and not getting sick, this is a fabulously fine pick'n'mix of a worship pop rock can LTTM coin the term “worockshipop” and is a stunning and original debut. I politely demand to be the first to review the second album.