The Musixmatch Mixtape

Bright Future - a raw emotional journey

Jen Galvin
March 2024
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After a particularly long week, I didn't expect to find myself sobbing in line at a Starbucks drive-thru while waiting for coffee last Friday morning. As I scrolled through Spotify, trying to pass the time, I noticed that Adrianne Lenker had released Bright Future the latest solo project, and second album from the Big Thief vocalist, a fact had slipped my mind amid the chaos of the week.

For standout time capsule tracks, it’s difficult not to include every song, but if I had to narrow it down, I’d choose:

Already acquainted with her solo work, counting "Anything" in my top 20 absolute favorite songs, I had high hopes for Lenker's sophomore album Bright Future, which effortlessly exceeded them. 

Upon hearing with the familiar sound of a tape recorder as the first song, Real House, begins, I was not prepared for the immediate rush of nostalgia, throwing me back to Smells Like Teen Spirit, Creep, and Wonderwall, and other memorable songs recorded directly onto analog tape, an aesthetic that perfectly sets the stage and aesthetic of the material to follow. 

Fun fact: Bright Future was recorded straight to tape, with a select group of trusted companions, capturing the music exactly as it unfolded during the studio performances.

Continuing Real House and the introduction of Lenker's delicate and ethereal vocals, from these early moments, it is undeniable that her voice perfectly complemented the dreamy essence of the lyrics. Straying from her typical, disciplined focus on structure and efficiency, Real House, diverged from this path with melodies meandering without distinct patterns of tension and release, while lyrically taking on an associative, rather than linear approach. With surreal imagery to symbolize the emotions not yet addressed directly, “Stars shine like tears on the night’s face,” as the song progresses, the veil of ambiguity lifts as it becomes clear that the subject is Lenker's mother. By the end, an almost palpable transition from the abstract to the deeply personal, culminates in a touching reflection of the first time Lenker witnessed her mother cry… and the point at which I began to cry as well. 

The subsequent tracks on the album were nothing short of songwriting and musical brilliance. From the beautiful piano to the raw violin, each track was stunning in its imperfection. Besides Lenker's pre-album release singles, I was particularly captivated by No Machine and Candleflame, both showcasing Lenker's gentle yet powerful vocal range. Ending the album to the somber notes of Ruined felt as fitting as a much-needed warm, comforting embrace.

Bright Future exudes a natural and spontaneous vibe, reflecting the free-flowing and intuitive atmosphere of the production space. The recordings possess a charming informality often associated with initial takes. At times, it feels like they're discovering the perfect arrangement for a song in realtime.

In today's music landscape, Bright Future shines like a rare gem, brimming with heartfelt emotion and nothing short of a masterpiece. I have immense admiration for Lenker's ability to consistently craft art that resonates deeply with the soul, positioning her as one of the greatest lyricists of our generation.

There is a tenderness to this album that I have yet to find in any other release this year, and perhaps never will.

Jen Galvin
Passion-driven visionary with a keen ear for melodies and innate understanding of storytelling, Jen prides herself in discovering hidden gems, exploring diverse genres, and unearthing the stories behind the music.
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