What does Bryde sound like?
Indie rock for the emotionally charged that enjoy earworm melodies.
The review of Bryde – Still
Having moved on from Welsh indie duo Paper Aeroplanes, Bryde released the stunning “Like An Island” in 2018. It switched gears from pretty and softer indie rock to something more visceral and grungy power chord. Her 2020 follow-up “The Volume of Things” was equally brooding but opened up the arrangements to a range of softer to harder indie rock. As if landing back on her Paper Aeroplanes feet again, “Still” feels more in line with her softer, reflective indie folk pop side.
There are plenty of great songs here with no weak links throughout. Bryde (Sarah Howell) has the ability to craft superb hooks that straddle pop sensibilities but are grounded in emotion. Armed with guitars, pianos and an emphasis on vocal layers, each song is beautifully presented. That could be the soft choral and guitar ballad “Hill I’m Dying On” which feels life-affirming and warm to the touch. It could be the rolling pianos of piano pop “Silver Sunset” with rich synth strings and a Sarah McLachlan edge to its production. Then there’s “State We’re In” which rides a wave of power into its chorus hook like a safari trail. However Bryde delivers her music, it always feels natural, fluid and with this album especially, effortless.
Not all the songs are softer and brighter, although the overall album’s hue is definitely one of reflection and gratitude. “Backless Dress” is a standout that brings dramatic duelling vocals, diving guitars and darker chords. Opener “Algorithms” has plenty of grunt to the electric guitars and a damaged crunch to the drums that hark back to Bryde’s heavier turns. “Conversations” feels like it’s made for the big screen with its clever use of synth basslines and guitars are distant sirens before its big chorus. The synth work throughout the album is subtle yet complex. You don’t pull out all the detailed whirs and bristles unless you listen closely. The magical synth work does take centre stage for “Headlong” though where the synths and strings create a glassy celestial smear. Lyrically there are plenty of situational observations throughout. I can appreciate a breakup song that involves a chip shop. Welcome to the UK.
The album closes with the pacey “Still” and “Epilogue”, with the latter being a quintessential Sarah Howell song. It is catchy, anthemic and with a skip in its step whilst being a bit sad too. That sums up the album nicely too. Bryde ends with the lyric “and the beat goes on” and it feels like each song is a snapshot of time. I have a theory on this album and it could be wildly wrong. “Still” feels like observational storytelling as if each track is someone’s life passing by and Bryde has sat watching it unfold. The album is a tribute to survival, still going, still moving forward and life continuing despite all these moments. It’s comforting and that’s why the softer mood works so well. Whilst sonically it sounds just as much like a Paper Aeroplanes release as a Bryde one, it’s a great indie rock album and deserves your time.
Recommended track: Algorithms
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