If PJ Harvey and The Corrs had a collab.
Bryde’s debut solo album ‘Like An Island’ was a fantastic rock album. After years as a duo ‘Paper Aeroplanes’ making equally great music, but more of the gentler folktronica side of a rock, it was lovely to hear Bryde really rock out. ‘The Volume of Things’ is another excellent album jam-packed with catchy rock songs but this time the angry power chords are turned down and the folksy side has turned itself up again. This is a more reflective album and dare I say, poppier.
The key here is the brighter choruses in tracks. For example, after the anthemic rocking opener ‘Silence’, ‘The Trouble Is’ starts off with moody verses but transitions to brighter choruses. There is a lighter, breezier style that evokes the Paper Aeroplanes era. That, layered with pop vocal production values, it means that Bryde sings sad songs that have choruses you could hear on BBC Radio 6 as a mainstay. In a moodier tone, ‘Done’ is lethargic and spacious as the guitars roll out to echo with aching beauty. Then we hit the choruses the softly softest warmth of Bryde’s voice melts the guitars away and things feel poppier again. The best example I can give of how this comes across is if PJ Harvey wrote songs for The Corrs. It is such a weird description but it encompasses all the raw rock edge that Bryde has that often channels into much brighter melodies through production. This isn’t a criticism – its an observation and a genuinely interesting straddle of feelings. It gives some genuinely fantastic tracks too. Single ‘Paper Cups’ is a rock anthem waiting to be discovered as its the perfect blend of razor-sharp riffs and heady melodies.
Whilst the production on those singles should work fantastically for getting radio play as an ‘indie that can’, it was the grittier rock tracks that I connected with slightly deeper. ‘Handing It Over’ keeps the big chords but really fries the guitars and drums to make the rock shine and vibrate across your ears. ‘Flies’ has some cinematic guitar solos and tense song structures that really allow Bryde to let loose. It is definitely her Bond theme song. ‘Hallelujahs’ reminds me of the superb The Jezabels. It is such a subtle cranking up of the guitar grit and unsoftening of Brydes voice that makes all the difference.
The final third of the album pushes a more experimental synth edge. The title track that closes the album is an unusual mixture of ballad and military percussion. ‘Another Word For Free’ leads with rubbery neon sci-fi synths and hushed vocals. It creates a dense and hypnotic mood that makes it feel the darkest track of the album. Again, cinematic comes to mind. ‘Outsiders’ leads with synths and electric pianos alongside drum machines for a brooding sensual feel too. It is impressive at how diverse particularly the latter half of the album is whilst all sounding completely coherent too.
‘The Volume of Things’ initially felt like Bryde wanted to make a really dense album and chose to front it with some much brighter singles to entice folk in. Initially this was jarring for me on first listen so I chose not to review it immediately and let it sit with me for a few months. I am so glad as I missed some important narratives. The album often speaks about being lost, things mounting up and the sheer volume of things that wear us down. Bryde starts out happier, smoother, polished and pristine and slowly over the course of the album the tracks get increasingly more dishevelled. The guitars crank up. Bryde’s voice because more urgent or sullen. The closing piece is literally a speeding slow motion metronome of military drums speeding against a calming ballad. I’d missed the point initially that the album flow was trying to make.
When that clicked for me – I had a ‘aha moment’. I dived straight back in and had the album on repeat. Songs clicked harder than before. I had a journey I can listen to and go on. There was so much for me to uncover I’d missed initially. ‘The Volume of Things’ is not as immediate as ‘Like An Island’ but it has just as much depth, if not more, for you to uncover. I just had to get on its wavelength. A fantastic album.
Recommended track: Handing It Over
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