Don't get Rod Thomas confused with Rob Thomas from Matchbox 20. The gay Welsh singer, also known as Bright Light Bright Light (named after a quote from the film Gremlins) didn't turn up yesterday.
His single "Love Part 2" created waves in the UK back in 2011. His current sound is centered confidently in a lush 90s aesthetic that made dance/pop then timeless. He continues that musical concept on his new LP, “Life Is Easy.” Think Pet Shop Boys's "Very" era, meets Living Joy, meets Seal. There was a warmer quality to dance/pop in the 90s. It reflected the positive outlook generated by confidence in an economy growing exponentially, yet at the same time tapped into the collective yearning within queer culture to be accepted.
HIV/AIDS was still ravaging the community who as a whole were misunderstood by a much larger portion of "mainstream" society than is the case today. This gave many a need to go out and exorcise their demons and seek solace on the dance floor. The music was liberating and emotionally powerful. It relied more on positive affirmations, textures, strong baselines and piano stabs. “Life is Easy” feels timeless.
Bright Light Bright Light shows his strengths in creating complex melodies on "I Wish We Were Leaving.” “In Your Care” — a clear standout — lyrically, could be a "Smalltown Boy" for 2014, only the character is no longer running away from home.
He is leaving peacefully to pursue his dreams. “I Believe" tip toes dangerously close into the shallow waters of E.D.M., but it has depth to it and is still more emotionally complex than most in that genre of music.
There are moments on “Life is Easy” where the percussion is too subdued — I'd love for him to work with Trevor Horne — but his lyrics make up for it. Thomas captures the essence of romance and heartache without it feeling like schlock. He makes breaking up even sound romantic. His music is a time machine to remind us of the best parts of our past while bringing us into the future. "Too Much To Say" is an indication of where his sound might be evolving and feels modern, and is a clear standout.
I disagree with the album title — Life is not that easy, but it doesn't have to be as hard as we make it. Bright Light Bright Light offers hope for the future of pop music.
Purchase Life Is Easy on I Tunes
John Bata is from Denver, Colorado and a local resident of Fort Lauderdale since 2013. He is a published poet and music aficionado. Currently he DJ's at Ramrod on Sundays and a DJ since 1992 in Washington, DC, New York City and Fort Lauderdale. One of his passions is to spotlight the latest in indie and underground dance music.