This is something of a ride. At first I found Bright Light Bright Light‘s confessional, almost-cheesy pop tracks somewhat cloying and faintly embarrassing. Then I reckoned the whole thing was dreadfully cynical and knowing. Then something else happened.
BLBL is Rod Thomas and his sonic oeuvre is firmly rooted in the sort of euphoric dance that crossed over to the UK pop charts in the early 90s. Think Kylie Minogue feat. Jazzy P doing ‘Shocked’, the Brothers in Rhythm remix of Heaven 17’s ‘Temptation‘, anything by D:Ream or mid-table hits by the likes of 2wo Third3. Thomas’ music makes near constant reference to this sort of music from his choice of instrumentation to arrangements to the various touches. A chart-obsessed geek as my teen self was in the 90s can’t help but be sucked into a kind of spot the reference. A sort of Where’s Felly?
Much like Thomas, I spent a lot of time in my teenage bedroom lost in Smash Hits, the Chart Show and baffling references to ecstasy. We both probably lost our little Celtic gay selves in the euphoria of proto diva house. For a while we closed our eyes and were Bizarre Inc. feat. Angie Brown or Lonnie Gordon or Sybil. We imagined that we might be the one on stage, letting the music lift us up, riding on time.
Hence the excruciating recognition. I’m listening to 18 year old me making the sort of wonderful anthemic pop music that I didn’t have the talent to. Listening to the lyrics that I might have imagined myself writing if I had any kind of experience of love and life. I winced at the realisation that someone else knows that I wanted to be an amazing large-lunged diva bringing ecstasy to the charts.
Then I got over it and realised that that kid is dead, the pop playground is still available to play in and dance music has gone in all sorts of exciting directions that little me wouldn’t have understood. I became something else. Rod, on the other hand, went with it. The difference is, of course, is that he had the talent to make the musical fantasy a reality.
I suspect that at this very moment some awkward teen is lying on his bed fantasising that he is Bright Light Bright Light.
Make Me Believe In Hope is out now.