Multi-instrumentalist Kelly Pratt (who records/performs as Bright Moments) is a lot like Colin Stetson. Both have provided some sweet horn sounds for other bands (Pratt’s been featured in cuts from Beirut and Arcade Fire), and now find themselves focusing on solo careers. However, while Stetson stuck to more intricate forms of avant-jazz, Pratt’s debut LP, Natives, is an effort of exquisite pop.
In a way, Pratt’s work is a lot like that of his collaborators in Beirut. “Milwaukee” is right in line with that band’s world-folk output, complete with lots of European-inspired horn work, effervescent vocals, and a rollicking, kinetic sense of energy merging with some slightly over-the-top pop cutesiness. Working in that baseline, Pratt can add tweaks and flourishes, resulting in the more deliberate, haunting “Ghost Dance”, or the more simplified, laid back “Lightning”. These cuts ooze familiarity, and that’s a positive aspect found throughout the entirety of this record.
When the album isn’t exploring old sounds with a fresh eye, it’s breaking ground with solid fits of full-on experimentation. “Behind the Gun” relies heavily on synths, resulting in an ’80s-inspired barrage of sensual bleeps and bloops, with a dash of funk thrown in. The album reaches an experimental and creative apex with “Traveling Light”, a battle between the worldly and organic (hands clapping, romantic horns) and an ever-increasing amount of electronic haze. Though the conflict is mesmerizing, the truly worthwhile moments are when both sides come together in joyous harmony. The addition of the synths isn’t overwhelming, but it’s just enough to kick-start the whole world-folk genre.
If Pratt wants to have true success outside of his side gigs (much like Stetson has achieved), he’ll need to continue the work he’s begun by layering in various electronic elements. As far as LP #1 is concerned, it’s a good start.
Essential Tracks: “Traveling Light”, “Behind the Gun”, and “Milwaukee”