Unless you’ve been spending a few months dead you’ll be very aware of the return this year of Meter Bridge, the bouncy duo from the vastlands of Nelson, Canada. Jill and Richard have spent a good amount of time and energy creating their second full length release, and after a few false starts it landed on Earth at the end of September. And finger on the pulse as always, I’m only just getting to it now. Such is life in 2017. Everyone is busier somehow now, and there’s a lot of vitriol being spat across the net since Mr Trump strolled onto the scene. Music feels like it’s somehow taking a back seat to this guy, rightly or wrongly. However, if you’re here, reading this, then you’ve taken time out from it all, and you’ve landed yourself on the shores of a divine album. You’ll enjoy your stay.
The lead single, Beta Test is also the kicking off point for Contact High, and I can report straight away that this is a different beast to 2015’s Slow Motion. It’s faster, more elegant, more energetic and has a more daring feel. A perfect choice for a single, this track is full of catchy melodies. The dual vocals are less to the fore than in previous works and this creates a different and more favourable atmosphere. Being a little further back in the mix, Jill’s voice takes on a dusky glow and is once again given a beautiful supporting role in the form of Richard’s bassy tone. This much smoother approach sets the tone for the whole record.
Leaves of Three is absolutely gorgeous, and hopefully a contender to be another single. The track pulses along with a delicate determination and the faintly mournful but hopeful vocals and lyrics combine to create a haunting, nocturnal crowd pleaser. And the vocoder is just cute. A beauty.
Single number 2, Frequent Seas, is pure pop heaven, a track Erasure would be proud of, indeed a track they should have written instead of the bilge they regularly push out nowadays. Every lovely chord change you could want is present and correct here and Jill’s vocals set the whole piece off magnificently – she has a way of crowbarring in some very odd phrases (“unquenchable silence..”) and making them seem not only effortless, but actually written specifically for the music. It’s incredibly natural sounding and brings a ready smile, even to this grumpy old git.
We slow slightly for Speechless, with a slightly grittier, rockier vibe in charge. This track is constructed wonderfully, the 3.36 minutes slipping by in a whirl of sophisticated arps, minor basses without you even knowing it.
This is how the album begins to feel by the midway point, it’s so very easy to listen to that the time just disappears. When you’re at work and become utterly absorbed in your task, you look up and its lunchtime – that’s the kind of feel that’s created throughout. It’s suddenly very easy to become magnetically attached to this record – if you were planning on nipping to the kitchen to make some tea, you’ll very probably forget. “Don’t Forget To Breathe” actually realises this visualisation as you end up holding your breath through this tense track. Cited as a track about moving on after the end of a relationship, the robotic vocal delivery of the verses occasionally gives way to emotionally charged melodic pleas – it’s a sad track that recalls all the angst of having to get over things you’d rather not, and rather than a happy ending we’re left feeling that the singer has a long way to go before happiness returns.
Nothing New winds up the original tracks on this all too short album. I actually don’t know if the album is short or not, but I’ve listened twice while writing and feel as if it’s only been 10 minutes – the thing has been so easy to listen to, so agreeable and absorbing that the outside world has ceased to matter. There’s things here for everyone. For tech-heads, the production and instrumentation is nothing short of stellar. For songsters, the lyrics are beautifully morose and the song construction is seamless. Dreamers can disappear on a cloud if they want to. You can put it on at a party, full blast, pass around that big cigarette and chill, or you can have on in the background at a dinner party. Mostly you’ll want to get in the quiet bedroom, open the curtains on a cold clear day and watch the world go by. It’s versatile and simply spectacular.
Meter Bridge have created an album of complex but incredibly accessible songs, all wrapped up in a golden bow and placed neatly in your lap for around $10 (AUD) which is a snip.
Forget about the politics for a while, have a bloody rest. Get back to what makes you happy. Surely one of the best things we can do is stick on a really decent album and escape for a while. We seem to be losing that ability at present and it’s a shame because albums like this are designed for to make us happy, and in the current climate these things are at a premium.
Review by: Keith Whitham, Deadlights