A few weeks ago, Bridges and Powerlines released Better, a strong six track collection with each song named after a Brooklyn neighborhood.
I'm sure it's not the intention, but it's fun to think about how these songs might connect to the place they are named after. Opening track "Bushwick" is probably the most rousing of the bunch. It charges out of the gate with a driving punk energy, but it also hints at some of the other flourishes in the band's repertoire that will only gain prominence as the EP continues. I couldn't help thinking a little about the rallying cry of the lyrics "We'll find a new way," tying to how Bushwick is an up and coming neighborhood for those priced out of other parts of Brooklyn. A stretch to be sure, but interesting to consider.
"Park Slope" has some outdoor references (mountains, forest) that make think of the nearby park, but here I'm more focused on the theme of trying to connect. It feels like there is pain and injury, yet we also hear that "love tends my wounds." After the comparative rush of the first two tracks, "Williamsburg" starts more gently. The guitars interlock and a steady beat helps build it, before we hear strings and xylophone. Later it feels like an almost electronic breakdown. It all helps show us that Bridges and Powerlines has many different elements to their sound. Also, you could read "Suddenly I'm alone wanting more" as some frustration with the state of that neighborhood, though that might be unfair.
I'm the least familiar with East New York of all these neighborhoods, so I'll not bother with any flip remarks for that track. This one definitely unfolds gradually, starting with distant vocals that are harmonized. Then the drums come in with a dynamic, march-like beat, along with some electronic touches that feel sort of like little birds or lightning bugs flitting around. Piano and strings enter at 1:30 and the song is starting to gain some traction. It keeps growing and rather than completely explode, it draws out the notion of "I was young and I was wrong," and I get the feeling from the repetition that it's sort of about going into that sentiment, perhaps to wallow in the past, perhaps to find a way forward, perhaps to apologize. It's a nice immersive center.
"Greenpoint" is a favorite track, partly because that's where I live, but also because it just is very captivating. There is a nice interplay of melody and that simple beat and guitar chords. The vocals have some of the passion from the early tracks, but meld nicely with the structure and feeling of the song. I also really dig that guitar riff that comes about 1:10. The horns add to it nicely, too. The closer is "Red Hook," which emphasizes the piano with some almost classical figures and returns to some of the harmony we got earlier in "East New York." The chorus is catchy when the melody ascends. But there is also some dexterous guitar riffage as the song makes its way towards the end. The talk of goodbyes and going on my way gives a sense of ending that works well for a final track.
Six good songs. You can purchase Better in various forms here.