"This album's about connections," says Rod Thomas, the man behind UK's buzz-heavy dance-pop outfit BRIGHT LIGHT BRIGHT LIGHT about his debut album MAKE ME BELIEVE IN HOPE (The Blue Team / Aztec Records Ltd; release June 26, 2012). A theme central to BLBL, the concept of connections could not be more accurate, from connecting the electronic to the organic, the dancebeats to the storyline, as well as the artist connections who add guest vocals, production and songwriting input. "All the hook-ups were really organic which is why I think they worked so well," he explains. Among the "connections" are Del Marquis of Scissor Sisters and Allison Pierce of The Pierces, renowned Grammy-nominated producer Andy Chatterley (Kylie, Kanye, Underworld), hiphop artist/producer/remixer Boom Bip (M83, Mogwai, Hot Hot Heat) and co-writer Jon Shave (Jessie J, Girls Aloud). But the album isn't a 'who's who in pop music' but a living, breathing collection of songs that's equal parts dance floor anthems, powerful songwriting, intriguing storytelling, and a real appreciation of music.
"Make Me Believe In Hope comes from a real love of making music, and I feel extremely privileged to have spent the last few years doing that," he explains. "These songs are about how people you meet or your surroundings make you feel more or less optimistic, and tease out different parts of your personality... how a chance encounter can fire up passion or self-belief, or how one city or landscape can open your mind to a hundred new things." Recorded in London, Los Angeles, and New York, the album is an amalgam of stories and textures that Rod collected in his travels, creating a multi-layered tapestry that weaves intricate dance beats into the fabric of his storytelling.
Unlike most dance music whose sole intention is to get you to move, BLBL's music makes you think as well. “I love ‘90s dance music and sample-based tracks,” says Rod. “I adore Ace Of Base. But I also love songs with storytelling lyrics and a melody that runs throughout. The two aren’t exclusive. Dance music doesn’t have to be disposable. Just because music is made with machines doesn’t mean it can’t have soul.” Rife with songs whose vocals complement the music perfectly, Make Me Believe In Hope contains two stunning singles that established Rod as one of the brightest new hopes in British pop music. The first single "Love Part II" was called “Kylie-class euphoric pop" by The Times while CityLife deemed it "a euphoric, giddy fizz-bomb of a track that practically combusts in excitement." The angst-ridden "Disco Moment" which, as ArjanWrites praises, "packs heaps of dancefloor drama that is vividly put into words by the pop crooner" while About.com chimes that it's "a haunting and compelling slice of poptronica... It's painful, gorgeous, and worth your attention."
From the lushly orchestral "Cry at Films" featuring Scissor Sisters Del Marquis (imagining life as a film where vital parts can be rewritten when they start to go wrong), to the broody ballad "Grace" (a breakup song told from the viewpoint of the one doing the dumping), to the shimmery midtempo "Moves" (lingering in a relationship that's stuck in stasis), Make Me Believe In Hope takes you through emotions and mindsets while keeping you moving. The new single, the piano house-influenced "Waiting for the Feeling," is "about having a lover who tells you all the time how much they care, but never does anything to show it," he explains. "It's all about recognising the point where you've had enough and something has to change. It's not about being a victim / being hard done by, just understanding that something's not right, what can we do about it." The visually arresting video for the track itself carries a storyline of its own as well. He explains, "The video kind of plays around with the idea of connections between people - with the sport element, and the waiting room - how aggressive or passive a connection can be, and how distant you can feel right next to someone."
"Waiting For the Feeling" video
Originally starting out in South Wales, Rod began as a folk artist with guitar in hand. “I began within my means,” he explains. “The music was acoustic guitar-led, with a few beats around it. I didn’t know how to programme and I had very little equipment. I began experimenting with a loop pedal and samples and gradually got to a prototype of the music I wanted to make – melodic pop for dance floors.” But when his management company sent one of his idols, hiphop producer Boom Bip, some of his demos, not only was a collaboration born but also his new direction. Flying to Los Angeles to work with him, Rod and Boom Bip spent two weeks working on tracks. "One was 'A New Word To Say.' I’d written it as a bluesy acoustic song and Boom Bip helped me turn it in to a big, shiny electronic production. That’s when I knew I had found my sound."
Make Me Believe In Hope was recorded in London, L.A. and New York, and was co-produced by Rod Thomas with Andy Chatterley (Kylie Minogue, Kanye West) and Jon Shave (Jessie J, Girls Aloud). It will be released on June 26, 2012 on Aztec Records.