By Cameron Pitzak
Graphic By Jennifer Notman
The Oakland dream pop duo Brijean, composed of pop percussionist and vocalist Brijean Murphy and producer Doug Stewart, have released a full-length album titled Feelings last month, continuing to develop their unique sound with influences of disco, synthy dream pop, and Latin jazz from their previous half-length album Walkie Talkie. Feelings drifts you away to some far-off island where you get to dance with the fun and upbeat live congas and lets you relax with the synths that really create the dreamy atmosphere for a lot of the project. All of this is accompanied by Murphy’s vocals, which seem to be strongly influenced by Astrud Gilberto’s tender voice.
The album starts with the song “Day Dreaming,” which probably has some of the most fun sounds on the LP, with Murphy’s live drums alternating back and forth in the space between your ears, the far-off back-up vocals, and various other percussion sounds that surround you, creating an exciting experience that fills up every corner of your ears. The soft cords at the beginning are a perfect way to start the album. With the second track, “Softened Thoughts,” the lyrics really give you a better understanding of what Brijean wants you to feel. She sings about renewing the mind and finding new perspectives that give her a better understanding of the world and the psyche and how this feeling excited her. The fourth track, “Wifi Beach,” has a super groovy bassline and an overall disco sound that really lets you dance along if you want to. The song will probably be one of the most memorable on the album.
But these groovy vibes do not last throughout the entire project, as from here, we start to see the whole thing slow down and become much more atmospheric. This is especially prevalent on the sixth song, “Ocean,” which, as the title suggests, makes you drift off into the deep blue with the much slower beat from the live percussion. The synths that drone quietly, complimenting Murphy’s tender vocals. “Ocean” is a beautiful, atmospheric piece that would probably work very well on a movie soundtrack or an Animal Planet episode exploring the deep blue sea. Tracks like “Paradise” slow down the groove from before, essentially giving the idea that your trip to this island is coming to an end soon, but enjoy it while you are still here. “Ocean” and “Paradise” both do the best job of giving the listener a vibe of pure serenity and calmness. Later on, the second to last song, “Hey Boy,” has Murphy asking the listener if they have found some answers from this project and telling them to hold onto the vibe that Brijean created on this LP. The project finishes off with the track “Moody,” which has some of the biggest bass kicks you’ll hear on the album. It ends the album with a sort of 3 A.M. vibe of reminiscing on your past mistakes. The songs’ order makes it feel like you are observing your mind and the feelings you feel throughout a day trip, starting with the lively excitement of the morning to the night, where you look back and reflect on your day.
Comparing Feelings to the Oakland duo’s previous work does show how they have improved. They still are making the same sounds, but they are a lot more refined on this project. Brijean Murphy has worked with various other Bay Area artists like Poolside and Toro Y Moi, where her live conga percussion was used in fusion with more western pop sounds which was very interesting to listen to. Luckily with Feelings, Murphy used her skills with funky Latin melodies and disco grooves, unlike other things she has worked on. This was also an opportunity for her to utilize her skills as a vocalist with her tender, welcoming voice and songwriting. Of course all of this would not sound complete, nor would it have the dream pop sound, if it were not for Doug Stewart’s production on the album. The mixing and mastering turned out great, and all of the various instruments were all balanced well and had their own individual opportunities to shine on different tracks.