Teething is the name of the debut album of Alex Knight, a musician better known as Brightness, and it’s aptly titled considering the content. The entirety of the record feels like a form of growth and of moving onto a new chapter or stage of life, just like a toddler going through the painful process of teething. The record is raw and open and honest as if pages were torn straight out of a journal and transformed into songs with a few chords and a couple catchy melodies. What Brightness presents is unpolished and pieced together, but the effect of it all is powerful and whole. The faults of the album are also its strengths, and this is evident from the very first listen.
The record begins with lead single Oblivion, a track that feels at once both summary and harsh, like the sun reflecting off the mirrored surface of a lake, the light getting in your eyes before you have the chance to look away. It’s the perfect introduction, a track that encapsulates the unabashed power of Knight’s words as well as the ability he has to communicate each emotionally-charged word in a near-perfect way. Surrender follows, and it’s a soothing, trance-inducing rhythm beefed up with airy vocals. The chorus is lilting and smooth, and the weightlessness of the entire track is enveloping.
Despite being only nine tracks long, the album is nearly overflowing. It feels more than whole, each track adding a layer to what was previously expressed. Talk to Me is radio-ready, a song carrying an acoustic groove that brings the listener into its depths. The reassuring lyrics which state over and over that “it’s alright/if you’re not sure how to do it” are echoed in the steadiness of the melody. After only three tracks, Blow Fly brings a grungy, industrial instrumental break, an interruption that you didn’t quite know you needed but is surely appreciated.
The album picks up again with Silver Birch, a track with a thrashing drum and an addictive beat. Holy John is next, and it’s foot-stomping and at times even awkward, but the disjointedness of it is what makes it captivating. Waltz is one of the standout tracks, a slow, lullaby-like track song dips the listener into a dream-like state while the fuzzy conversations and feedback littered throughout allow us to remain firmly planted in the real world. Queen Bee is a mix of emotion and contradictory feelings, and the glittery guitar is truly fit for a queen. The final track, Reprise, is melodic and slow but still rather noisy, a perfect closer to allow the listener to come down from the high of the album.
Teething is enigmatic. It seems to be made up entirely of contradictions: light and dark, distant and intimate, fast and slow. While it occupies two very different ends of a spectrum, it all seems to come together at the end, the words and the melodies and the feelings meeting to form a whole that cannot be undone. It’s an album that nearly escapes explanation and one that should be listened to by anyone and everyone.
Teething will be released June 30th via I OH YOU