REVIEW: Brighten – I’ll Always Be Around


Artist: Brighten
Album: I’ll Always Be Around
Genre: Indie-Pop

One of my favorite things about music, is having a secret little cache of bands that no one really knows about, its like my own little personal collection of secrets, and when I find a like-minded soul, is like a membership card to a society that is hidden from the masses; album names and tour dates are our secret handshake, and we’re instantly friends. Oddly enough, there are a few bands that this happens with consistently, its a short list of reoccurring bands that can immediately spark a friendship. Off the top of my head, its usually Lydia, Harvard, and Brighten. Originally I thought it was because these bands just happened to have happy, friendly fans, which is true, of course, but I feel like there is a bit more to it than that. It really comes down to the bands themselves, those bands I mentioned have this pure, unadulterated talent, that most bands simply can’t touch. Let alone bands that seem to maintain such a constant underground, yet adoring following. To those in the know, it seems impossible for such an impressive band to not gain more mainstream acclaim or acceptance, it’s not like bands like Brighten or Lydia don’t have solid pop sensibilities, and yet, they are forever relegated to cult-status. Of course, Brighten has every reason to still be underground, frontman Justin Richards’ “day job” as a touring member of A Rocket To The Moon puts a bit of a damper on the productivity of Brighten, Richards claims that Brighten will always be “just for fun”, to the point where nearly all promotional outlets are managed by diehard fans. But this seemingly uncaring and nonchalant attitude towards Brighten, has absolutely no affect on the quality of the music, which is what is really important.

Every new Brighten release is met with a certain amount of hype amongst their fiercely dedicated fans, and with good reason, they never fail to disappoint, but with the releases fairly scattered, as far as EP’s go anyway, they are always intensely analyzed. This puts each new release up against a slight disadvantage; fans have plenty of time to get to know the old release, and make friends with it, metaphorically speaking, forming one of those intangible musical-bonds. This makes the new album sort of a stranger; a welcome intruder, taken in with open arms, but a bit of silent skepticism. Something to be intensely judged, to see if it is worthy to be held in the same light as the last release.

Their newest EP, I’ll Always Be Around comes as a follow up to the Be Human EP released in 2010 which, to be fair, is quite the tough act to follow. Initially I wasn’t quite sure it would stack up to the previous release, the album started off strong with the title track, “I’ll Always Be Around”, but “Your World” was trying a bit too hard to have a certain sound that is a bit too much of a departure from the traditional Brighten sound, that is never fully achieves the sound they’re going for. And to be fair, I was looking for any reason to fault this album. But aside from that one track which, even after a few listens, never fully redeemed itself, the rest of the album was nearly without fault. Songs like “Pelican Park” and “Forever In Love” make up for any detractions I could have drawn because of “Your World”.

In all honesty, I’m still not quite convinced that I’ll Always Be Around will stick with me with the same sort of impact as Be Human but then again, this could very well be just another case of me needing more time to get better acquainted with the album, and spend the time with it that I spent with their old release. Either way, this is another very solid, long awaited, and seriously impressive release from Brighten. Here’s to hoping that all the Brighten fans out there can convince Richards that Brighten needs to be more than just a casual, “just-for-fun” project, it really deserves so much more attention.

SCORE: 8/10
Reviewed by: Mike Hogan

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the founder of Under The Gun Review. He loves writing about music and movies almost as much as he loves his two fat cats. He's also the co-founder of Antique Records and the Marketing Coordinator for Haulix. You should probably follow him on Twitter.

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