Brijean, “Feelings”
By Max Savage Levenson · February 26, 2021 Merch for this release:
Compact Disc (CD), Vinyl LP

Oakland percussionist Brijean Murphy spent years as a touring percussionist with a long list of indie royalty—playing with U.S. Girls and Poolside, joining Toro y Moi for an epic performance in the empty desert—before stepping into the spotlight on 2019’s Walkie Talkie, her first album as Brijean with Oakland multi-instrumentalist Doug Stuart. On that album, the pair subtly mix elements of tropicália, funk, and chillwave into intimate and inviting arrangements, for songs that manage to feel breezy and melancholy at once.

Feelings, Brijean’s second album (and first for Ghostly International), marks a shift towards a more sumptuous sound. Feelings draws on a similar palette as Brijean’s earlier work, but here, every component—the plush synths, Stuart’s punching bass lines, the bouquet of polyrhythmic percussion, Murphy’s patient, tender voice—has been expanded to IMAX dimensions. The result is an album that’s as soothing as it is grand, an antidote for bitter winter cold.

Brijean has a gift for crafting propulsive, infectious grooves, as heard on radiant lead single “Day Dreaming” (which features Toro y Moi’s Chaz Bear on keyboards) and the album’s peppy title track. But the record’s most enthralling moments arrive when she overlays her stadium-sized hooks with laconic, pastel-hued soundscapes. “Wifi Beach” pairs the frantic clatter of percussion with a riptide of slow-moving synth and chiming keys to dizzying effect, while album standout “Ocean” is a gorgeous and meditative slow-burn that draws power from its stark, thunderous drums. From start to finish, Feelings has a kind of sonic luxuriousness that mirrors the lyrics’s immutable joy. It’s a balm, and a thing to treasure. Or, as Brijean puts it herself in “Hey Boy”: “When the vibe feels so right/ Hold on tight.”

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