Album Review: Brightest Darkest Day by Pyyramids

Photo Credit: Eleanor Stills
Photo Credit: Eleanor Stills

Photo Credit: Eleanor Stills

By Robbie Simmons

It is understandable for a musician within a band to feel as though their musical “voice” isn’t being heard.  In these cases, said musician will generally embark upon an alternate project, either solo or collaborative. As John Frusciante has proven time and time again, these efforts can often be “hit or miss.”

Pyyramids – OK Go bassist Tim Nordwind’s new collaboration with He Say/She Say vocalist Drea Smith – lives up to this precedent. Brightest Darkest Day comes across as an effort to showcase an individual’s entire musical point of view. The common thread throughout the album, strong but simple songwriting, makes it listenable in its entirety, but unless you’re Nickelback, no one strives for just “listenable.”

The real standout moments of this record focus on heavy production, using both electronic and organic instruments. “Smoke and Mirrors” opens the album on a strong note, using a simple acoustic guitar riff and programmed drums, building to a mostly electronic chorus built around this guitar line. “Everyone Says” uses a bass guitar for its main instrumental line, but creates a soundscape of Smith’s echoing, reverberant vocals and heavily effected electric guitar over a laid back but steady drum beat. Second-to-last song “That Ain’t Right” again employs a simple acoustic riff to build upon, but instead builds using acoustic-sounding drums and synthesized strings.

But then there are the “misses.” “Do You Think You’re Enough” and “Paper Doll,” placed back-to-back, create 8+ minutes of repetitive, unilateral faux-rock. Everyone in indie rock (and a lot of other genres, for that matter) has roots in good, old-fashioned rock ‘n’ roll, but presenting those roots over forced, crunchy, electronic drums may not be the most effective way to showcase one’s varied taste. The contrast of the experimental, building tracks preceding these “rock” numbers is too great, and placing these tracks next to each other makes it difficult to want to continue listening.

Overall, Pyyramids’ Brightest Darkest Day is a decent listen. There are even genuine moments of excellence, but would it stand alone without Tim Nordwind’s already established notoriety? Well, I’m just not sure about that.