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Feelings Nick Roseblade , February 23rd, 2021 08:44

The follow up to 2019's Walkie Talkie sees Brijean take more lyrical risks with their dreamy take on disco pop, finds Nick Roseblade

In the three years since Brijean Murphy and Doug Stuart’s debut album Walkie Talkie we have seen the world shift from one of unlimited experiences and interactions to one in which we live in our homes and mostly communicate through screens. “Do you need what I need too? Do you feel what I feel too?” Murphy’s lilt on the opening track ‘Daydream’ has now taken on a slightly different meaning. While the music that follows is a mixture of Balearic chill out, pop, disco, and Latin jazz that builds on the foundations of their debut album, there is a slight despondency lurking beneath the pastel melodies.

This is evident on ‘Ocean’. Behind the massive Vangelis vibes, the music is sensual but with a slight bite to it. Is this a song about unrequited love or a bittersweet lament about a breakup? The two standout tracks on the album are ‘Paradise’ and ‘Oh Boy’. The main hook in ‘Paradise’ has a swoony vibe to it. This could equally suit being played on a patio as the sun goes down as well as on a gyrating dancefloor. The beats are syncopated but there is an urgency to their laidback charm. Murphy croons, “Hold on to me that feels nice” and “Touching the colours of twilight” before the chorus of ‘I’m in paradise’ gracefully echoes over the slowly pulsating backing track. It’s a slice of post-Balearic pop that really lifts the spirits on a cold and frosty February morning after the daily nursery run.

The start of ‘Oh Boy’ blends in with the end of the previous track ‘Chester’. This ninety-second instrumental features many of the same motifs as ‘Oh Boy’ – wonky melodies, delirious synths – and acts as an unofficial intro to it. When ‘Oh Boy’ finally kicks in the lyrics are about pleasure seeking. “Hey, that feels good it must be right”, “Hey, once you start to feel alive. That feeling you can deny. Hold on tight” and “Hold on tight to what you like”. The lyrics act as an exploration of feeling good through sorrow, anxiety, and apathy. And this is what Brijean do incredibly well. They create a light and bouncy mood then undercut this with existential questions.

After a first listen you aren’t quite sure what the point of the song – or the album – is. But over multiple listens it all starts to make some sense. Brijean want to offer us a good time, whilst making us question if this is actually a good time or not. This is nothing new, but Brijean try not to be overwhelmed by the present when working out what they want.

There is a confidence in their songwriting here that was missing on their debut. More risks are taken – mostly lyrically – and it pays off. The downside to the album is that It’s all subtle shades of the same colour, without much variation. At thirty-two-minutes long this doesn’t grate too much, but the inclusion of a slower ballad or another upbeat instrumental would have been a nice addition. However, at its heart Feelings is full of hypnotic hooks that create dreamy dance music full of excitement and melancholy.