If schizophrenia had a sound it might well be said that 60-Watt Kid’s We Came From the Bright Sidecomes close to capturing it. Perhaps that is too loaded of a term, but listening to the album as it wanders through a soundscape with no clear referents to time and space, ebbing and flowing in erratic changes, the cavernous sound definitely culls a certain sense of madness. This can be a dangerous attribute for music but 60-Watt Kid implores this dissonance very effectively throughout this album.
Music such as this conjures up distinct similarities to the sonic experimentations of bands such as Animal Collective (a band I personally take issue with). Experimentation in this vein can be a precarious place for musicians to stand. On the one hand there is the experimentation that is far to readily granted a band (such as Animal Collective) that ventures into the territory of weird for the sake of being weird; the function being a means to garner credential in a community that desires to define itself as an opposition to a mainstream sound, forsaking musical communication for a chance to be an avant-garde that in reality generates nothing newer than a desire to be an unqualifiable outsider. In the other there is a genuine use of complexity that doesn’t revel in it’s own quirkiness but actually pushes the boundaries of sound while still being able to reach a listener using something of the conventional. The tension between these two really begs the question of how as musicians can we strive towards the avant-garde without the pretension of forsaking association with the audience for the ideologically pure weird?
We Came From the Bright Side sits in a comfortable balance in this spectrum. It embodies it’s own complexity but still holds on to a sense of melody and convention. Divorcing itself certainly from one convention, 60-Watt Kid’s music is mostly not centered around the lyrics. The narrative of the music is conveyed primarily through the feeling and tenor, with the lyrics taking more of a secondary role as yet another instrument and sound. With that in mind it seems more appropriate to discuss and understand We Came From the Bright Side through it’s movements. Opening with “2012,” the album launches itself into its ethereal tonality and lays out what is perhaps one of the likely recurrent themes of the album: the warmth of connection amidst the cold repetitive of the sound of technology… well maybe.
The album continues from here ascending in a scattered meteoric rise into it’s eerie outsider sound with the title track “We Came From the Bright Side.” The driving guitar line and explosive bursts of electronic accents lurch the listener upward and onward on this chaotic voyage.
Following the somewhat glorious sounding ascension, the album takes a disturbing turn into tension with the aptly title track “Pressure.” Whatever levity the beginning of the journey may have had becomes tainted with a tangible amount of awkwardness and the weight of the album’s own madness becomes disconcerting. There is some tenderness in this discomfort but a certain menace lingers about the middle of the album, breaking for it’s inevitable crash with the equally appropriately named “2012 Breakdown.” The frenzied journey comes crashing down like a space ship rapidly descending from orbit, and we are left stranded somewhere tranquil, far from the lunacy that brought us here.
All in all I’d say We Came From the Bright Side is a remarkable success. It’s thoroughly engaging and a real pleasure to listen to from beginning to end. It is engaging enough to engender something of a cosmic and conflicted adventure burdened by the insanity of technology. Take some time to yourself to sit down with this album and listen to the celestial madness of the space it drags you to.