Album Review: Brightr & Veto – Split EP

imageThere is something undeniably exciting about a great split EP. Two bands slugging it and spurring each other on, perhaps a nod of respect to each other with a top class cover, and the warm fuzzy feeling that everyone in this tiny little scene is looking out for each other.

I think back to splits between Hot Water Music and Alkaline Trio, Jimmy Eat World and Jebediah (and Jejune), The Dismemberment Plan and Juno, and more recently Balance and Composure and Tigers Jaw, and you can find some of these bands’ greatest songs buried in these records. It may be too soon in the respective careers of Brightr and Veto to suggest we’re looking at the same level of adulation, but they’ve delivered a very special split EP all the same.

The first thing that you’ll notice is that musically, in the vein of all great splits, there’s not much common ground between the warm acoustic emo of Brightr and the atmospheric, occasionally abrasive indie-punk of Veto. Truth be told, that’s exactly what I want from a split single. There’s a clear respect there, but there’s little danger of either act ploughing the same furrow. Instead, you get plenty of peaks and troughs and a nice about-turn in sound and style as you switch from Brightr to Veto.

Brightr & Veto. Split by Veto.

The EP opens with Brightr’s ‘You Wish You Were Here’, a jaunty little number which shows the excellent range and gorgeous textures of Laurie Cottingham’s vocals. It’s an all-too-brief 2 minutes, but is hugely enjoyable. Meanwhile, ‘Alright, Okay’ pushes the envelope further. It’s wonderfully arranged, and Cottingham puts everything into it vocally.

‘Just So You Know I Lost My Balance’ is an older song, written about the death of Cottingham’s friend. Lyrically it’s probably not as strong as the other two originals, but it’s still packed with emotion. Cottingham’s a hugely believable and sincere narrator and songs such as this just reinforce the fact. Finally, Brightr concludes his half of the split with a ripping take on Veto’s ‘I Feel Like Steven Glansberg’. Cottingham absolutely makes the track his own, in much the same way as Hot Water Music’s ‘Radio’ is every bit as good as the original.

Veto are a much different proposition, yet no less exciting. In fact, they match Cottingham stride for stride and beat for beat. ‘Wallflower’ is a ragged, raw, percussive-light blast. It’s a clever move, as it is the song on their half of the split which is closest to the intimate sounds of Brightr. It’s an emotive cut, building to a frenzied conclusion, dark in tone and mood. After the ringing chords of Brightr it’s a superb piece of judgement and the perfect introduction to their half of the split.

‘Red Granite’ is a much more straightforward indie-punk song, with some rather great gang vocals and some wonderful changes in tempo. Overall it’s probably the highlight of what is a class collection of songs. Finally Veto round things off with a cover of Brightr’s ‘Sleight of Hand’. It’s thrashy and messy and a huge amount of fun. The only criticism of the split is that I just wish the Veto half was slightly better recorded and mixed. There’s a top class band stuck behind an annoyingly flat production job, and even though it’s a minor complaint as the songs themselves are uniformly excellent, it does conjure up a ‘what if?’ moment.

Still, the beauty of such a split is I’m desperate to know what Brightr and Veto will do next and, as you will struggle to find a better or more rounded split single this year, it really is a job well done by all concerned.

4.5/5

‘Split’ EP by Brightr and Veto is out now.

Brightr links: Facebook|Twitter|Bandcamp

Veto links: Facebook|Twitter|Bandcamp

Words by Rob Mair (@BobNightMair)

Leave a Reply