When Brijean, the collaborative project from Brijean Murphy and Doug Stuart, released its 2019 debut mini album Walkie Talkie, it carried the feeling of a hazy heater. I’m serious. Every time the record came on, in any type of venue, dance floors would assemble like Voltron. Who could be mad at that? Better yet, what local or national band still had that type of pull?
Tropicalia expansiveness, house music posture, and ’70s mellow disco flair: Brijean is that stretch. Reminiscent of those yesterday/tomorrow outfits. Dr Buzzard’s Original Savannah Band comes to mind, aesthetically. This Oakland-based duo presents a tasteful symmetry between modernism and sentimentality. (Read Daniel Bromfield’s interview with Brijean here.)
But for me it was always their cool-out selections. The joints between the jams. Those intimate transitory exchanges where Murphy’s voice coos down into that pitter-patter, Astrud Gilberto-remote latitude—slow-moving, deep-feeling hypnosis. It’s that type of lavishness, full of chakras aligning enchantment, that few bands today barely touch.
After 11 months of grim grief, taking joy every- and anywhere you can find it this spring seems to be a wise choice. Feelings, Brijean’s debut release on the “transcending” Ghostly International label, is a good place to start. The duo makes the expansive jump by augmenting that luxurious mood with sure-footed presence.
While Brijean still builds off Murphy’s foundational influences of Latin soul and jazz—she’s an accomplished DJ and one of Oakland’s most in-demand indie percussionists—it’s her voice and enunciation that hovers above the record this time. She speaks… not slowly, but at a reduced pace, with Goddess reserve, no matter the tempo.
You can hear her confidence rising throughout the new record, right from the bouncing disco-ball coziness of lead-off “Day Dreaming”: the “Do you need what I need too” lyric gliding with affirmation. Murphy’s voice is not asking, it assuring.
Murphy refers to the approach as “romancing the psyche,” sure I’ll buy that. Matter fact, I’ll buy anything she’s selling underneath those aquatic swooshes, languid energy redirections, blissful grooves, and loaded-up bossa nova touches.
When referring to “Feelings” as one of your fave records this year to friends, do me a favor. Skip the Captain No Fun genre police blather. Especially all the purple pants terms. Don’t even think about dropping that “Post-Balearic pop” yammer.
Life is hard, fleeting for some these days, so let’s keep it cherry. Just sway to the alluring mood stretched out over 32 minutes with a cold one in your right hand, and a cute one on your left. Get all into it. Maximizing on that gallant promenade, two-stepping on the doughy pockets of bump. (That’s Bay Area music hero Chaz Bear in the engineering booth.)
Feelings is out Friday on Ghostly International records.