Review: The Bright Light Social Hour, Emergency Leisure

Fifth platter grooves another uncannily transportive audio experience

Review: The Bright Light Social Hour, <i>Emergency Leisure</i>

Album cover staging a rock star bacchanal reminiscent of the gatefold sleeve to the Rolling Stones' Beggars Banquet, the Bright Light Social Hour's Emergency Leisure updates it with a Studio 54 disco makeover – musically as well as visually, aesthetically. Fifth album since 2010's eponymous local splash, the new party platter grooves yet another uncannily transportive audio experience. "Dance-flavored melodies, shimmering retro soul, and sing-along anthems," cited our debut LP review, which holds trademark true for Emergency Leisure, best full-length since 2015's Space Is Still the Place. A ticklish weightlessness, like some sort of musical moonwalk representing both Michael Jackson's illusory backpedaling and Neil Armstrong's giant steps and long jumps, manifests here like inner space externalized into infinite cosmos. In contemporizing progressive sine waves into retro-futuristic synthwave, TBLSH relights a spectral niche in Austin chillwave. Much of that goes to Jackie O'Brien singing a timeless calm: Sixties mind expansion, Seventies buzz, Eighties seamlessness, Nineties rusticana, and Aughts existentialism. Singing bass players fashion buoyant vocal lines. Warmth of a Wurlitzer, and spot ticks and twitches – glockenspiel, trumpet, sax – layer alongside an Afrobeat skitter-n-pop of rockist reassurance. Originators O'Brien and Curtis Roush (guitar/vocals) completed by Mia Carruthers (keys/vocals), Zac Catanzaro (drums), and Juan Alfredo Ríos (percussion) levitate. Pet Shop Boys breakdown in "Most High," a gravity-free hippie convergence; ricochet beats and celestial keys refracting "Amsalak" into caffeinated narcosis; and slapping conga for "Eating Out My Mind" all bust a move. Side B distorts ("Death of a Lifer") and distends ("Swollen"), but "Call My Name" bumps, grinds, unwinds.

The Bright Light Social Hour

Emergency Leisure (Escondido Sound)

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The Bright Light Social Hour, Jackie O'Brien, Curtis Roush, Mia Carruthers, Zac Catanzaro, Juan Alfredo Ríos

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