BC Camplight – Shortly After Takeoff

A confession of the nihilist who looks for something to believe in.
Label: Bella Union
Released: 24th April 2020
Rating: ★★★★

BC Camplight has mastered the art of overpouring his work with madness and despair. Surviving on-going battles with mental illness, episodes of homelessness and deportation from the UK, he doesn’t give a crap about pleasing anyone. He’s got a story to tell and you better be ready for it.

On ‘Shortly After Takeoff’, a finale of Manchester Trilogy, Philadelphian Brian Christinzio, BC Camplight’s main man, is done with hiding behind convoluted metaphors and tired of the ever-going struggle. Especially after the death of his father, Angelo, who appears constantly through the record. If his last album, ‘Deportation Blues’, was an immigration elegy, here he cries over all the rest. Goes all out.

“For the first half of this record, I thought I had a really bad disease. Turns out I’m just mentally ill,” he says in ‘Ghosthunting’, a retrospective dialogue where he chases demons all the way to Philly, only to get asked if he’s making music to dance to. Hell yeah. ‘Back to Work’ is a kind of a melodic, distorted self-reprimand that you can sway to. After hours, there’s ‘I Only Drink When I’m Drunk’ with weird, concussion-causing drums and ferocious guitar. ‘I Want To Be In Mafia’, featuring soothing piano, is a straight-forward standout about a desperate need for belonging and purpose. “I’m beginning to give up, there’s nothing in my cup. I’m hoping it’s a phase,” the lyrics go.

‘Shortly After Takeoff’ is a confession of the nihilist who looks for something to believe in. So he put odd elements together and experiments with tempo, effects and layered choruses. In the result, we get ghastly, eclectic synth-pop infused with 50s rock ‘n’ roll and featuring Christinzio’s exhilarating vocal. Sounding as if Father John Misty and Baxter Dury got together for an improv jazz session. It’s both ironically funny and heart-breaking account of every-day madness and a simple need for love, not redemption.

‘Shortly After Takeoff’, shows Christinzio who, despite spiralling around his fears, tries to face them with an open heart. Even though the album couldn’t be further from feel-good music, it’s strangely pleasing. Like you’ve found a person who’s as lonely as you and now you can be lonely together.

Aleksandra Brzezicka

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