Lake Macquarie local Brightness, a.k.a. Alex Knight, has opened his sensitive side to us with his debut album Teething, a 9-track slice of bedroom whispers and diary entry intimacy.
Teething opens with driven lead single ‘Oblivion‘, an angsty, fuzzy punch of low-fi rock that demands multiple listens. Knight describes the track as being about “witnessing somebody mentally unravel and being unable to help them” and that sense of distanced chaos is clear in the unique combination of Knight’s soft, sweet voice and the wall of roaring, muffled guitars. Knight’s lyrics are consistently candid and unashamed, with the line “Just like a baby during teething / bewildered by the pain” setting a potential theme for the album.
But while Knight’s recordings are vulnerable (except for a couple of guest performances, he recorded all of the instruments himself in his bedroom) the songs are never helpless, with tracks such as ‘Talk To Me’ providing the reassuring words “It’s alright if you don’t know how to do it / come sit down here, talk to me”. In fact the whole album is diverse, with sonic textures ranging from tape hiss and acoustic guitar in gentle lullaby ‘Waltz’ to luscious harmonies and tambourines in magical indie odyssey ‘Surrender’. Instead of coming across as a carefully curated track list, Teething seems more like a charming collection of voice memos.
One thing the eclectic tracks have in common, however, is sounding both immense and quiet at the same time. Hidden highlight ‘Silver Birch’ pairs sparse, minimal verses of raw, twangy guitars and big, echoing drums with a mesmerising chorus where the layers of humming bass and Knight’s distorting voice sound like they’re too much for the speakers.
Written in the moment he decided to “quit his life” in London after 6 years, Teething captures Knight’s sense of frustration and claustrophobia with the world. Thanks to his crackling bedroom recordings and intimate lyrics, listening to Teething feels not only like we’re listening to Brightness, but that he’s listening to us too.
Brightness is launching his album in Sydney and Melbourne over the next two weeks. Details here.
Words by Hayley Franklin.