London’s indie-rock scene has welcomed a captivating newcomer in the form of bryden, whose debut 3-track EP, ‘The Rites’, produced by Oscar Moos, has just been released following the success of his debut single ‘Blood’. bryden, a true artist at heart, seamlessly blends together elements of indie-rock, pop and R&B, drawing inspiration from the likes of Frank Ocean, The Smiths, and Catfish and the Bottlemen, to create a unique and eclectic sound. The artist’s enigmatic lyricism and rock undertones are perfectly interwoven with R&B melodies, and bryden’s creativity extends beyond just music. The concept for ‘The Rites’ is heavily influenced by occultist imagery, taking cues from Alastair Crowley’s Mystic Tomes, Shakespeare’s ‘Antony and Cleopatra’, the Gawain Poet’s ‘Perle’ poem, and David Cronenberg’s ‘Videodrome’. The EP, which depicts the three stages of an occultist ritual, provides an intense and unforgettable listening experience.
The opening track, “Pearl” is an enigmatic and seductive song that draws the listener into a world of occultism and sensuality. The song’s lyrics tell the story of an alluring and devilish character, referred to as “Pearl,” who captivates the narrator with their beauty and otherworldly charm. The chorus repeats the haunting refrain, “You creep on me, you creep inside, force your way in no way to hide,” which captures the dark and obsessive nature of the narrator’s fascination with Pearl.
In the verses, bryden uses vivid and evocative language to describe Pearl’s appearance, from their pearlescent skin to their bright coral hair. The pre-chorus builds tension with the lines, “Are you the Joy of a perfect lie, or something true come undisguised,” suggesting that Pearl’s allure may be masking something darker.
The post-chorus shifts the focus to the theme of deception, with references to “fool’s gold” and “synthetic perfume” juxtaposed against the mystical allusions to “Madame Blavatsky” and the “pentagram.” The outro repeats the line “The music died” in a haunting and melancholic manner, leaving the listener with a sense of foreboding.
“Blood” is a powerful and intense song that explores the transformative power of love through vivid and visceral imagery. The themes of sacrifice, shame, and desire are all explored with a mix of religious and sexual imagery, creating a complex and emotionally charged tapestry. bryden’s vocals are emotive and raw, adding to the intensity of the song. The song’s first verse sets the scene with the protagonist feeling enervated and slumped on a church pew. They are lifted up and undressed by their lover, who blesses them with their heat. The imagery is both sensual and religious, suggesting a mix of passion and reverence.
The pre-chorus highlights the power dynamic between the two, with the lover biting the protagonist’s cheek and pushing them to a precipice. The imagery of bleeding is intense and powerful, suggesting a willingness to suffer for love. The chorus repeats the central longing of the song, with the protagonist seeking to be washed in their lover’s blood to be left clean and cleaner. The repetition of this line reinforces the intensity of the desire for love and the transformative power of the blood.
The lyrics of the final song, “Leap”, are full of poetic language and vivid imagery. The song appears to be about the struggle to come to terms with reality and the desire to escape it. The opening lines, “I can’t bear this much reality / I unwind my hand from my seat,” suggest a feeling of unease and discomfort with the world around us. bryden’s voice is drenched in soul and grit. The second verse paints a picture of the protagonist feeling trapped and suffocated by the people around them. “Boastful voices close in on me / Instantly loathsome I flee” seems to speak to a feeling of being overwhelmed by other people’s expectations and judgments.
The chorus of the song is the most powerful part, with the repeated refrain “See the mask, see the mask, let it fall now.” This can be interpreted as a call to drop the façade and be true to oneself. The line “Can I take this leap of faith or no” suggests that the decision to do so is not an easy one and requires courage. The bridge of the song speaks to the desire to escape reality and the idea that there is something beyond this world. The line “In my end is our beginning” suggests a belief in an afterlife or rebirth.
Overall, the lyrics of “Leap” are full of intense emotions and powerful imagery. They speak to the struggle to come to terms with reality and the desire to escape it, while also emphasizing the importance of being true to oneself. The EP, “The Rites”, is a strong addition to the indie-rock genre and not only highlights bryden’s skill as a songwriter, but also his performance as a singer and a storyteller. The beats are skillfully crafted, and produced in vibrant, but never overwhelming sonic colors. The sum of which makes for an enthralling listening experience.