Last year took a toll on many, many people. It was rough. It was angry. It was painful. And most art reflected that.
Sometimes it’s necessary to take a deep breath, relax, and think about that feeling when the sun shines through the clouds. And that’s what Real Numbers sound like to me. The clean and pristine guitar tones really define the overall vibes, whether it comes from the finger-picked notes of “Old Cross” or the soft harmonies in “Brighter Then” or “Darling.” Think of 1960s pop and early garage rock interspersed with 1980s indie pop. There’s a Beach Boys beauty to these songs, but a little more complexity in tone. The addition of keyboards has added a subtly ominous layer that threads the different pieces together, especially when the keyboard becomes the focal point in “Brighter Then (Reprise)" at the record’s end.
The sounds of this EP are often sunny on first impression, but the five musicians work together to convey a full picture with hidden layers underneath the surface. That’s not to say this is dark by any means; rather that the guitar and vocals deliver mellow summer vibes while the rhythm section subtly steers the material through a less predictable path. Enjoy those beautiful moments while you’ve got them, because you never know when things will turn for the worse. Sticking with weather descriptions, “Darling” is winter: it’s morose at heart with glimpses of sparkling sunlight.
Brighter Then was recorded in 2019/early 2020, before the pandemic. Perhaps because it predates the global depression we’re all feeling, this EP never takes that tumultuous turn. There is an occasional waver that hints of harsher and sadder emotion, but Real Numbers keep it mostly positive while reflecting on life experiences. This past year has made us cranky and grizzled, but we should mind that lesson. Pause for a second, relax and reset, then focus on what’s ahead.
7.7 / 10
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