Typically, when you think of the post-rock genre — ill defined as it may be — you think of ominously ruminative, instrumental soundscapes that demand great attention from listeners, only to leave them feeling rather flattened.
San Antonio's Bright Like the Sun, however, showcases an entirely different — more uplifting — concept of post-rock on its self-titled sophomore album, out last week on Sun Sea Sky Productions.
"Post-rock in general tends to have a very brooding, depressing mood to it and with this record we made a very conscious effort to show that you can sound emotive without being sad," multi-instrumentalist Chris Etheredge told the San Antonio Current. "You can use post-rock to establish positive emotions and good feelings, as opposed to feelings of alienation or abandonment or whatever."
Album opener and instant standout "White Lights" starts out at a flutter that feels like you're stuck in an elevator, both because of the mood of ascension and the soft, nebulous pleasantness of the first notes. Etheredge told the Current that this song, one of three on the album with vocals, came about naturally from a genuine experience of hopefulness.
"The whole band was watching New Year's Eve fireworks from the roof of Blue Star and we quickly realized that from our vantage point we could see all of the fireworks people were popping at their homes too," Etheredge explained. "It was just this magical evening that left us all with an optimistic feeling, like 'you know, shit may be going bad in your life, but keep your head up, everything's fine.'" Indeed, the whole record is charged with an optimistic sonic brightness (pun intended) and conjures feelings of positivity, encouraging personal exploration.
Lyrics, which are new territory for BLTS, became a part of the music "extremely late," when the band noticed some pre-production "holes" in the songs. The vocals came as a natural patch that proved to be exactly what the tracks were missing. While they will remain a secondary component of the music, Etheredge reports that lyrics will likely continue to be a part of the band's work moving forward.
Bright Like the Sun is an album full of arresting movements, small and large, pushing the heady listener into a rarefied space for contemplation and expansion. The band's constantly improving live set now features an epic light show that fully syncs up to the emotional waves of the music. All in all, it's hard to believe that this self-assured outfit came together through chance and a few Craigslist posts by musicians simply eager to create.