Review Summary: The Beirut multi-instrumentalist crafts a much denser, upbeat, and accessible Beirut album.
Bright Moments is the side project of Kelly Pratt, the backup trumpet player, vocalist, and multi-instrumentalist of Beirut. He’s also played/recorded for Arcade Fire, Coldplay, and a slew of less popular bands like The Maccabees and Escort. Not surprisingly, Natives is an embodiment of the Pratt’s role as a session artist; it’s attentive to detail and exceedingly well performed. Every acoustic instrument played sounds beautiful and each song has several layers of sound. Even during his less impressive songs, Kelly’s mastery and joy in his craft ensures that everything is palatable.
The overall sound of the album is very Beirut
-esque: lots of horns, orchestration, and even a signature Beirut accordion on Milwaukee Protocol. Pratt’s vocals are far less distinct than Zach Condon’s but he styles them the same way, adding little falls and trills into his vocal lines. Yet what makes Bright Moments distinct from Beirut is it’s generally denser, more upbeat, and even more friendly and accessible.
Even though Natives does contain less impressive songs, it’s hardly a hit and miss affair- every song brings something to the album. “Tourists” transforms from a synth-led intro to a very enjoyable indie-pop clap-along affair, the celebration of “Travelers” explodes into a memorable chorus, and the horns and vocals of “Ghost Dance I” swell into the most beautiful moment on the album. “Drifters”, a clear highlight, has an awesome vibrato whistling solo and a lovely chorus. Even the biggest flop on the album, “Behind the Gun”, boasts an interesting distorted snare pattern reminiscent of Aphex Twin
and highly enjoyable distorted sax solo (the song itself has a very cheesy Eighties ‘let’s-go-on-an-adventure’ vibe and would fit well in a Backyardigans episode). It’s these details that make Nations worth listening to and a very good debut album.
That’s not to say Pratt doesn’t have lots of room to grow. The lyrics avoid being cheesy but are rarely memorable, and he pushes his voice to the back of each song, which doesn’t serve any effect except to further hide the lyrics. But there are moments of great promise throughout the album; on "Milwaukee Protocol", a slew of trumpets cascade into the victorious chorus, and the detailed electronic tweakings of "Travelling Light" liken it to a lost highlight from Gorillaz
’ Plastic Beach. In Nations, Kelly Pratt’s crafted a very pleasant debut album, and I’m looking forward to an even stronger one.
Interlude: Ghost Dance I