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Paul Brill
Breezy
Scarlet Shame Records
www.paulbrill.com


It's been a few years since I received what I believe to be the first Paul Brill CD and gave it a glowing review. On his first couple outings, Brill championed what could best be described as a blending of folksy Americana with electronica. His releases since then have been more varied in sound, moving towards a much more mainstream-indie (if that's possible) sound. The interim albums have been mostly nice little pieces of pop music, but have not struck me as something to necessarily write home about.

All that changes on Breezy. Brill has totally abandoned any hint of Americana, instead turning his more-than-capable hands towards making some of the finest indie pop that's been released in the past few years. To be bold, Breezy could be considered the year 2012's Pet Sounds. Bold, I know; but more than fairly accurate. The songs all have a breezy (get it?) feeling to them, light-hearted chords and singalong choruses while the tracks all have varied and interesting instrumentation that adds to the celebratory feel of the entire song set. Most of the songs here tend to be stompy, energetic numbers that cause the foot to tap and the body to swing, but there are a few more down-tempo moments to balance things out a bit. Regardless of the attitude of the song in question, nothing on the album clocks in at more than four minutes, and most come in under the 3-minute mark. There's no time to get bored with these songs.

Things begin with the sound of a gaggle of girls laughing before things launch into a very Beck-ish, L.A. style groove; high energy and bleeping electronics above a coolly vibey and lo-fi drumbeat make "Sunny Guy" the perfect kick off for the album. Some electronic-flashed steel drums take over the rhythmic vibe on "Kissing Cousins" and Brill expounds on the virtues of fighting zombies on "The Royal Oui." Some gritty guitars and throbbing bass make "Debussy Roses" groove before the slower, more atmostpheric and bouncy "Last W&T." The songs all pop and breeze and the reprise at the end of the record ties things together nicely from the beginning. The album has a loose story arc, but there's barely time to catch it, as the songs go by so quickly and are so much fun to listen to that the brain doesn't need to listen for anything deeper than the good times that are evident.

This might be a collection of breezy, summertime music but there is a depth and maturity to the songs that makes the comparison to Pet Sounds even more distinct. The songs seem light hearted and easy until the ear gives a little closer listen; the deeper stories start to stand out and create brilliant stories of gallant and tragic characters. But if you don't spend the time to get that deep into the songs, then Breezy is, at the very least, a fantastic collection of sing-along-able songs that you can enjoy listening to all year long. And when you do, roll down the windows and let the decibels go forth with loudness and vigor!

-Embo Blake

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