To pinpoint the missing element in indie-rock band Brigg Fair’s debut album Kill Yourself for Change, listeners need look no further than the last word of the album’s title: change.
Founder and lead singer Geoff Ereth has a pleasant enough voice, and many of Brigg Fair’s songs contain thought-provoking lyrics. The album, however, suffers from a lack of variety in its compositions, and the limitations of Ereth’s vocal range are clearly on display. Monotonous harmonies and vocals make it difficult to differentiate one song from another, which doesn’t exactly make for a great listening experience.
Ereth’s voice recalls that of Isaac Slade, lead singer of The Fray, and Chris Martin, who provides lead vocals for Coldplay, but doesn’t seem to possess the passion that both Slade and Martin consistently express on their recordings.
Ereth sings in measured, safe tones, as if he doesn’t want to push the limits of his range for fear of hitting a bad note.
This caution is detrimental to Kill Yourself for Change as a whole, as the album’s many droopy songs about failed relationships call for a wider spectrum of emotions, such as angst and sorrow, that Ereth’s voice doesn’t always convey. Ereth’s lack of vocal experimentation, which is most evident on the extremely one-note “Tides” and “Departures,” is especially disappointing because there are plenty of signs that he’s very talented. You get the impression that if he tried just a little harder, Brigg Fair’s debut would be much stronger and more emotionally charged.
This problem extends into the instrumentation. Brigg Fair’s utilization of melancholy compositions feel extremely similar throughout the album, creating an unfortunate phenomenon in which all the songs sound the same. After listening to two or three songs, the slow-paced, dejected ballads begin to meld into one boring track. Love songs like “Jolene” and “Lydia” sound nice, but they do not pack the catchy punch of similar tracks like The Fray’s “Heartbeat” or “Over My Head.”
These muted compositions also keep the album’s thematic messages from sounding truly convincing. Though the sound of Ereth’s voice over a synchronous harmony makes for nice background music, it does not quite engage the listener in a man’s despair over a heartbreaking goodbye.
The title track is a welcome departure from these droning ballads, but it falls short of a musical success. The phrase “How’d you like to make some money? How’d you like to kill yourself for change?” repeats over and over, to the point where you’ll desire silence for a change. The lyrics try to assert that America’s recession-ravaged economy is leading desperate and impoverished individuals to compromise their morals and values in exchange for a quick buck.
It’s a fascinating concept, but an underdeveloped one: The song’s repetitive lyrics fail to explore the depth of the repercussions of the economic downturn.
“Kill Yourself for Change” is yet another example of how Brigg Fair flaunts potential, yet can’t quite achieve greatness.
Despite these major faults, Kill Yourself for Change isn’t a complete failure. Ereth’s voice is appealing and many songs contain thought-provoking lyrics that tell the timeless story of lost love in a fresh way — Brigg Fair certainly has a talent for this type of storytelling.
“I Gave You Blood” describes an adolescent romance in which Ereth details how his paramour lost interest in him once she went to college. The heartfelt nature of the lyrics is captivating, and resonates with anyone who has drifted away from a significant other because of distance.
“Heart Attacks” is another lyrical triumph. The track features touching phrases like “I fell in love, but it was friendship in disguise” that add depth and dimensionality to the love story. Again though, the downtrodden beats and monotonous singing just don’t match the passion of the words — Ereth’s cautious vocalization makes it sound as if he’s singing about slipping into a coma instead of having a heart attack.
The most frustrating aspect of Kill Yourself for Change is that Brigg Fair shows clear potential. A talented lead singer and a knack for storytelling gives listeners a glimpse into how successful Brigg Fair could be if the band simply explored its musicality a little more. Though listening to the pleasant but not passionate sounds of Kill Yourself won’t inspire suicidal thoughts, listeners won’t help but yearn for a little more variety.