You know those days of reflection, where we think about everything that’s going on, what’s around us, why we’re here or what we ate yesterday? Today is one of those days.
It is hot. The sun is beating down on our faces, while people are bathing on the beach, happy with that little bit they are sharing with whoever it may be. And suddenly the day cools down, and we go to eat – we have so many other good moments at that round table that never seems to end. And we talk. And we drink. And we repeat until we return to our landing. And we return to our endless thoughts, in that moment of our own where we have eight hours to fly wherever we want.
We wake up. We repeat. Innocuously, every day of our lives. But the not-so-good news doesn’t choose a time. And that’s when we stop to wonder what the hell we’re doing here.
The time has come to embrace destiny but in the most melancholic, beautiful, and pure form possible. This is where an immense talent comes in, with such incredible satire to tell his story that we leave the words and melody to him. Meet Darrin Bradbury and his latest album.
Darrin Bradbury has charmed us since Nashville. No, it’s not commercial – nor does he want to be that kind of music. The idea is to throw himself into whatever comes his way, with the tones that have always pulled him towards the artistic side.
This is the artist’s third album, following Elmwood Park: A Slightly Melodic Audiobook (2016) and Talking Dogs & Atom Bombs (2019). One pandemic and two years later, we meet Artvertisement, a record with grotesque potential for a play that could perfectly well have our lives in the background.
Bradbury had a quiet, peaceful life, with the normal problems of any normal day. Out of the blue, without anyone making predictions, he is diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder and PTSD. And that’s where, with a bit of darker humour and sarcasm, mixed with those typical characters from the series we see most commonly and references to pop culture, we get this latest foray from the artist.
And we were immediately captivated by the name, because, indeed, it is art. Art and advertising, come on. The kind we can catch between a typical ad for a car wash or that unique biscuit that will revolutionise our lives. That’s what advertising is: captivating to the ridiculous point of making us in need of that cookie that we don’t know where to put it. Darrin, if you’re reading this: it’s a compliment because the name is definitely genius!
The album is more folk-oriented, with the musician’s voice reminding us at first listen of Kurt Vile in the tone in which it unfolds. It was written while touring in support of the Talking Dogs – and recorded at Trace Horse Studio in March 2020, at a terrible time for Nashville, with a tornado and the beginning of the COVID-19 shutdown.
Motivated? Bradbury has 12 stories to tell us.
We begin with “Field Notes from a College Town“. And it’s right from the first moments that we have the artist in our heads telling us a story, with that Bruce Springsteen blushing rhythm. It sounds cliché, but the opening line is definitely something we should keep in our daily mood: “Why you gotta be so serious kid? You are where you are and you live where you live”. Smile more, live less for social media and all that is said to be the current “political” correctness. We shake our heads at Darrin’s challenge, delighted.
“Artvertisement” may only be a minute and ten, but it’s punk of that pure that reminded us of those typical kid’s games, and how happy we were. We have Bad Religion, NOFX and The Walkmen on our minds when we listen to this minute and ten. Oh, and lots of publicity mixed into one recipe. Divine.
“XXYTOPLEFT” might be the right code to unlock that secret character in our favourite fighting game, but it’s in it that we return to the incredible stories of the artist – and the serious question of what a disaster between two flying cars would look like. We get to think with him and look up at the sky, so blue, so beautiful and clear.
“Exile on Myrtle Beach” has a rock rhythm that would make any 80s/90s band proud. Because the urge to want to take us on this nostalgic trip is there. This, while we listen to the best stories of the artist’s creative world.
“The Wedding Song” may not have the best possible verses for those who want to find true love (Love is a lie that you tell yourself // To soften the blow that you’re dying alone // Dig too deep, you know, you’ll probably hit stone), but it is impossible not to follow the rhythm with happiness. If this song passes with your soul mate, definitely ask her to marry you right away.
Darrin may not have called “Deanna, Deanna“, but we suddenly feel stuck in Malcolm in the Middle with the pool band present being Weezer. It doesn’t get more catchy than this: folk-rock rhythms, coupled with another one of those stories we want to tell all our friends.
We’ve arrived at “Shiny Town“. And the impression we get is that we live in a world between the film Fifth Element, Blade Runner and…Las Vegas. The perfect combination for a midnight slow? We say yes to this invitation, without a doubt.
“Pizza & Drugs?” Sounds like one of those daydreams that only a crazy soul wishes to aim for. Let’s hope the pizza doesn’t have pineapple on it, otherwise, it will definitely be an explosive mix. Ah, sorry, it’s a song: and would you believe that putting these two words together would make almost a love song? Yes, a love song. And we hear in the background Michael Stipe shaking his head laughing with pride because the music is so beautiful.
And in “15 Shovels” we reach the beginning piano that reminds us of the beautiful traditional Muse. But out of nowhere, we’re back to the United States of America and a pure hard country that lets you shake your head from the first second to the last.
Darrin may not want it, but Those Beautiful Days has a fresh beat to be the next big thing in mainstream industry music. It has angst, a trendy beat and a melancholy voice: is there a more random set?
“Busted World” goes back to the pure country, with classic guitar, cowboy boots and, out of nowhere, that explosion that can only be compared to some scene where Clint Eastwood defeats all the evils of the land.
We close with “Mikey Shoulda Died“. With chorus, it’s that song you could see in any final scene of a cowboy movie, by a campfire, full of wind, telling all those stories of a lifetime. And you already know how these scenes end, right? With a bombastic shootout, where good definitely defeats evil. Here there is no exception: after the life story, a dose of pure rock, with rhythms that seem to come from the other world.
And after twelve songs, Darrin has closed the book. If there’s one person with so much to tell, that character is undoubtedly Bradbury. Between aliens, rock, country, punk, folk or whatever he wants, the premise will always be the same: irreverence, told by someone who knows how to put a story on the table.