A man who runs with the wolves - or a pack of men who run with the wolves - are most notably of a different breed. They are of a different cut and wake up in mornings with the aftertaste of blood that kind of reminds the buds of pennies, along with the red meat it came from and cockleburs stuck into their greasy and matted hair and there's a constant consternation of how it all happened, again.
It's a reoccurring scenario after the dreams have been killed, put down for another night's sleep during the broad part of the day, for that's when the exhaustion sets in and things get blurry around the curling edges. Brighton, MA is a band that runs with these very wolves and operates under brilliant night lights, just letting the feelings and the temperatures act themselves out in their music as if they can control them little more than one can control a flood or an ice storm. It's as if they have no choice in the matter, getting overtaken by some of these grander ideas of personal legitimacy, making good on love and the passage of time that somewhere along the way turns it into history. People, whether they let themselves do it or not, have so much that they can think deeply about that should stop them stiff in their tracks and all of the riddles and puzzling combinations of others, their words and letters, that living throws at them should be draining.
Lead singer Matt Kerstein and band sink themselves into a general mood that feels like sad chandeliers, a cold frost and men sipping glasses of brandy or whiskey in glasses that are almost always empty and in rooms that are dimmed and staring back with an anxious tension. The songs are a combination of these scenes and the anticlimactic (or most interesting) narratives that have shown the characters as the flawed, yet resiliently trying men that everyone starts out as and winds up as through no lack of effort. These are thoughts that build into a kettle of steam that announce their presence over the course of time, seeping out slowly without the whistle. These are thoughts that one catches himself thinking and knowing not where they came from or how they found him, just that they're right or they're more right than wrong. Kerstein has one of the most engaging voices and lyrical minds anywhere and Brighton, MA should be recognized, not necessarily alongside other albums that are marveled over, but sharing quarters with prized literature, the pleasure and pain of solitude and mankind's corrupt beauty.
*Essay originally published December, 2008
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