Review: BRYDES' "Turquoise" Turns Folk to Pop Without the Bubblegum

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Robbie Williamson and Kaia Mazza are trying something new as BRYDES. - BRYDES / FACEBOOK
  • BRYDES / Facebook
  • Robbie Williamson and Kaia Mazza are trying something new as BRYDES.

BRYDES' Kaia Mazza might be more familiar to you under her previous performing name: Kaia Chesney. When playing as Kaia Chesney, her music was light and ethereal but still powerful. It was delicate, acoustic guitar centered folk with Chesney's brassy vocals over top. However, you wouldn't really know any of this from her new project BRYDES.

The first BRYDES release, "Turquoise," came out in the middle of last month and the five-song EP distinguishes itself from Mazza's former work in the first second. In fact, the synth-heavy pop jam "Gila Bones," which kicks the record off, sounds more like Haim than the indie singer-songwriter ballads Mazza was known for. It's got '80s sensibilities that, thanks to Robbie Williamson, amount to a textural wall of glittering synth.

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From there, "Cat Call" strips some of the layers out, showcasing Mazza's ever-strong vocal ability. It still has some of those little flourishes and the same Peter Gabriel-esque drum machine for the beats. However, the song also shows restraint, an auditory reprieve after the first song's bright intensity.

"Bright Eyed Boy" is definitely the album's most accomplished song. It has the more subtle, straightforward moments of "Cat Call" building effectively into the blown out, triumphant and sunny pop anthem the album started with from "Gila Bones." It switches between these modes, making the chorus something you eagerly anticipate each time. It leaves you wanting more, but unfortunately by the fourth track, "Wrong to Assume," the repetitive lyrical moments that made the first three songs catchy pop tunes ended up to be too much. The phrase "don't hold on for me" is repeated six times as the chorus, which cycles through at least four times. 

Finishing up, the album doesn't slow down on "The One You Ask For." By this point, you honestly wouldn't expect it to. This first taste of BRYDES is most successful at providing an album insistent on its poppyness but not being vapid. At a time when everyone is resurrecting the psych and prog of the '70s and '90s grunge, Mazza and Williamson both jumped in head first to the '80s. "Turquoise" is unapologetically fun, doing something unique to Tucson music and proving Mazza's versatility. 

You can visit the BRYDES Facebook page for information on where you can snag a copy of the record and for information on upcoming shows.

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