BC Camplight: Shortly After Takeoff review – a tumultuous pop masterpiece

(Bella Union)
Brian Christinzio distills beauty from pain and allows melodies and hooks to hang around on this triumphant album

BC Camplight: Shortly After Takeoff album art work
BC Camplight: Shortly After Takeoff album art work Photograph: Publicity image

Brian Christinzio’s fifth album as BC Camplight is a marvel, in which currents cut across each other in a half hour or so that roils with anxiety, stuns with beauty and, occasionally, provokes laughter. The whole uneasy tone – is it wrong to take so much pleasure in something so plainly the result of turmoil – is set with the opening to the second track, Ghosthunting, in which Christinzio delivers a parody standup routine to bilious audience laughter: “For the whole first half of this record, I thought I had a really bad disease. It turns out I’m just mentally ill. I called an attorney to get my affairs in order and everything. He said, ‘You know I’m a personal injury lawyer, right?’ He asked me, ‘Have you fallen?’ I said, ‘Boy have I ever.’”

Christinzio has previously spoken of his reluctance to dwell on pretty melodies or memorable choruses. That’s not the case here: he’s still not one for hammering a hook down your throat until it’s so caught it becomes irritating, but he lets them hang around long enough to sink in, and allows them to return. It’s more that the passages of disruption serve as palate-cleansers for the next piece of sweetness. It’s funny, too. Born to Cruise – whose opening minute or so is a grand, four-to-the-floor road trip banger, which makes you want to wind your window down and hammer the steering wheel, begins with the perfect bathos-laden lyric: “I’ve had my indicator on since leaving Crewe / That explains the gestures in my rearview.” This album is a masterpiece.


Michael Hann

The GuardianTramp

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