Oakland duo Brijean make mood music. It’s right there in the title of their first full-length release, Feelings; the grand majority of its 11 songs have vocalist-percussionist Brijean Murphy explicitly referencing “feelings” in some form. Though there is an unendingly wide spectrum of sensation we can experience at any given moment, Brijean’s album has glass half-full optimism flowing through every fluid groove. It’s a record, the band explain in a press release, about self-care and “romancing the psyche.” That PMA is only part of what makes the debut from Murphy and multi-instrumentalist Doug Stuart so refreshing.
The introductory “Day Dreaming” is a blushing blend of Crystal Waters-style house-pop organs, conga drums, elastic-snap bass lines, and a perma-bump four-on-the-floor. While delivered somewhat hushed, Murphy brings an optimistic vulnerability to her lyrics as she taps into the excitement of starting something new (“day dreaming about you…do you feel what I feel, too?”). It’s a vibe Brijean continue on “Softened Thoughts,” a swerving poolside bop—the song begins with a muffled conversation about swimming all day “at the house”— which seeks “new perspectives that feel good.”
Feelings is overloaded with ear-pleasing tones, like the sun-warped synths streaming through the momentary “Pepe,” or the chilled-out elements of tropicalia, house, and disco coursing through “WiFi Beach” and “Hey Boy.” The record is likewise a percussive powerhouse. Credit, of course, goes to Murphy for her intoxicatingly vibrant conga work, which she had previously refined while working behind artists including Toro Y Moi and U.S. Girls, but guest drummer Hamir Atwal also delivers infectious grooves throughout. He brings an especially sly hi-hat slink to the palatial bossa nova of “Lathered in Gold.” That track is the best part of a mid-album dip in tempo, preceded by the thematically-coupled “Ocean” and “Paradise”; a quick instrumental called “Chester” is tasked with bumping up the bpms with a somewhat unnatural accelerando, but it ultimately drives Feelings back into a sweat-beading back section. “Moody” closes the record with a mixture of candid laughter, frenetic conga taps, spacious electric piano, and Murphy’s pitch-shifted vocal musings on the brightness of being shy and moody.
Stuart and Murphy’s first full-length is an exercise in aural bliss, a record beaming with effortless drive and wide-eyed rhythmic ambition. Whatever your mood, it couldn’t hurt to get into Brijean’s Feelings for a bit.
Feelings cover art by Robert Beatty
Pre-order Feelings by Brijean via Ghostly International HERE