hile not quite capturing the universally dynamic essence of American Water , Silver Jews frontman David Berman shows us definite maturation with the emotionally uneven Bright Flight . This time around, he makes us think a little bit more about his twisted Southern world; giving us a bit more pause in between lines to allow/force us to ponder each individual second. The tone is much more varying on this record, the sadder songs being more blue than ever and the happier tunes having more of a celebratory quality than ever.
With second guitarist Steve Malkmus out of the picture, there is less focus on the band as a whole. Steve’s presence was more of a distraction to some Pavement hard-liners, to many of them making the Silver Jews seem like more of a novelty, rather than David’s musical vehicle. But more now than ever, David’s influence is undeniably at the front, and altogether more poignant.
The song ‘I remember me’ shows us a different side of David Berman. The song, essentially a ballad, spins the story of a young man’s romance with an ultimately fickle female. After the initial courtship, the song is given a typical Berman twist and we are left with a funny feeling as he repeats ‘I’m just remembering’. Over the course of the song we’re moved (along with the narrator) violently from love to tragedy to separation to ultimately, dealing with the facts of the situation. This song functions as a microsm of the entire record, with the competing tones moving each other out of the way a bit hastily, though not too harsh as to destroy the overall ambience.
David’s voice is more unrestrained here, showing us that his deep drawl can be stretched into a yearning yelp. In the past, many of David’s musings may have been lost on listeners too meek for his constant nasal drone. Several tunes, like ‘Tennessee’ find him gleefully barreling through drunken worlds of poetry like some southern Calvin Johnston. While other songs like ‘Room Games and Diamond Rings‘ test his range and introduce us to a different, more expressive David.
Their overall sound is pretty much unchanged, simple but effective country. Producer Mark Nevers utilizes available space well, turning Berman’s agoraphobic personality into something we can all appreciate, even if we aren’t used to his off key observations.