Kelly Pratt is Bright Moments.
He's the guy up at night by himself, stitching songs together in his New York City apartment all winter. There's a special art to making an album in the spare seconds that the rest of a regular life can't quite reach. Recorded track-by-track-by-track with Pratt on most of the instruments in his apartment studio during the New York City winter of 2010, this slow-motion musicianship became Natives (Luaka Bop).
Natives may be your first official introduction to the music of Bright Moments but if you have spent time with some of the most beloved indie albums of the last decade, you'll quickly realize that you know him well. He is the multi-instrumentalist whose trumpet sparks across so many of Beirut's songs and whose harmonizing vocals is a central component to the band's robust live performances. He has also shouldered everything from flugelhorn to flute to bring Arcade Fire's Neon Bible to life, and was part of the horn section that LCD Soundsystem used during its sunset days.
Although Natives is his first as Bright Moments, it's the spiritual sequel to his earlier band Team B, whose 2008 album was recorded right into the microphone on a MacBook in hotel rooms and hurried backstage demo sessions while Pratt was on tour with Arcade Fire and LCD Soundsystem. (Members of Beirut, Antibalas and LCD Soundsystem all helped, with LCD drummer Pat Mahoney being the only guy who actually joined Pratt in a real-deal studio.) For Bright Moments, however, Pratt wanted to make sure to take his time.
The album was recorded with no set schedule beyond, and drew slowly together, with the songs all developing at the same time like puppies from a single litter. Beirut's rhythm section (Nick Petree and Paul Collins) and accordionist (Perrin Cloutier), as well as the drummer from Pratt's former Afrobeat band Akoya, awaited direction. On some tracks, Pratt would use his trumpet as a percussion instrument; on another, he'd snip a shaker in half and sample the sound of sand pouring out to make a beat. The lyrics took longest--inspired by and sometimes drawn directly from an old book of Scandinavian poetry discovered on tour, or the little-known story of the girl who was the first person ever to be cured of rabies. (That'd be track two, "Milwaukee," named after the specific method of cure.)
You may not exactly be able to identify the sampled sound of live bats on "Milwaukee," or the bathtub splashing-turned-percussion on "Traveling Light." It's these details-- heard and even unheard -- woven into this densely arranged album that allows Natives to reveal itself over time, listen after listen. Natives is soaked in this detail. It's a pop record by a guy who's decided he can do anything he wants. There's no fear on Natives—just enduring, and sometimes heartbreaking, pop songs that unfold forever, with who knows whom hiding within.
Pratt's put this pyramid together, spending a year in the home studio he calls his "instrument graveyard" where a dozen brass instruments compete plaintively for attention with synthesizers, guitars and more. With gigabytes of field recordings and found sounds sourced from all over the planet. And reinforcements, from the ranks of the musicians he's recorded with in the past— this time from Team B, Beirut, Yellow Ostrich and Spoon's Jim Eno behind the mixing board.
Lyrics:There is a place, and a time for all the answers, so long ago Tourists without a bit of understanding, blindly going home Go on, go on, go on Spent so much time in the company of elders, through all the highs and lows I never asked and the never thought to tell, Maybe no one knows Go on, go on, go on I don't know I'll ever know
Lyrics:Baby, what's come over you I don't know what you're saying Your eyes have lost their allure I think you might be crazy Don't be afraid, it doesn't hurt, it's only water Jeanna, oh what could it be If only you'd remember Now they want to put you to sleep I'll see you in November Don't be afraid, it doesn't hurt, it's only water
Lyrics:Grace, seventeen and high She lies awake, staring at the sky Gene, thirty-two and grey He's dreaming of the top, if only for a day What will become of the girl who thinks that there is no one listening She is humming along to a tune nobody knows that they are missing What will become of the boy who thinks that there is no one with him He is wandering far in a world that isn't known for it's attention What will become of the girl who thinks that there is no one listening She is humming along to a tune nobody knows that they are missing What will become of the boy who thinks that there is no one with him He is there behind the gun
Lyrics:I know it's time to clear, but I will never know what time it is Some cases you must appeal, so I will suffer through the trial again The sun shines bright across the coast, but I can never see the light again Oppression unprovoked, but I can bear it I am not the only one I will not be afraid, no matter what comes 'Cause I got strength in spades, even though it feels gone What is this coming to? Is it Tuesday or Saturday? We will always be drifting with the tide again I will not be afraid, no matter what comes 'Cause I got strength in spades, even though it feels gone What is this coming to? Is it Tuesday or Saturday? We will always be drifting with the tide again May you always keep drifting with the tide again
Lyrics:You're dry, so dry You'll stay dry so dry, so try Traveling light, I'm traveling light So long, you'll forget as soon as you have gone And that should make things easier Every dawn, in another city in the sun Nothing could be tougher Sleep tight, without a worry in your little head Dreaming of impossibilities You're traveling light, is there a chance you couldn't get it right? You will stay dry Traveling light, I'm traveling light Deliver me from evil, before it hits the mark And though it feels much closer, I have never been so far And I can't get much further, from what I've come to know and even if it happens it won't happen till I go Traveling light
Lyrics:We're on our way out west Gonna break a couple hearts along the way We'll have the night of our lives They've plotted a destination Front and back and end to end you've gotta find some reason Because this flight, it means nothing down the line Unless you die on the water or in the sky Today it may be easy Or maybe turn around and have them take me back to New York City This is the way to spend your youth I think I got the lesson After all the back and forth I gotta ask the question But I don't know if I wanna know it's true That this flight means nothing down the line Unless you die on the water or in the sky
Lyrics:I never thought to count the hours out at sea But even if you never see land that doesn't make you free And it's frightening to think what might have been They say lightning can't strike again I am not one to be afraid of getting old It helps to be a part of the greatest story ever told And it's frightening to think what might have been They say lightning can never strike again And these things we pursue Don't come from within
Lyrics:Tune up the band and sing of the day of sailing the waters from Dublin to Pompeii No one to please, a solitary man You may have a year or possible three So here's to your health man, wherever it may be Tip ip your glass, eat drink be glad You will save yourself from the memories But you will save your son from the misery Thin is your cheek and sunken your chest You're soft as a sponge and you know you need rest You think of your home with longing and distaste How long has it been since you darkened the door Your entrails are burning the tears are burning You're facing the day you thought may never break You will save yourself from the memories But you will save your son from the misery One if by land, two if by sea The cost of the journey has never been clearer Is this where it ends, the taming of your feet? You will save yourself from the memories But you will save your son from the misery
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