New Sounds: Brett reel in their dark side on ‘Roman Candle’


As alternative becomes more like pop music and once-obscure styles shift closer to the forefront of Spotify (looking at you, bedroom-pop), a new genre has bloomed from the ashes of 2016 and 2017: apocalyptic pop. And Brett, four Los Angeles darlings with D.C. roots and a rep for sunny-side-up indie, are feeling the sinister tug of war of this political climate, burning both ends of their “Roman Candle” to put the pieces together.

“The tunes on this EP are decidedly more dark because as you get older, you are able to contextualize your role in the world around you more accurately — and it’s not always a happy realization,” frontman Mick Coogan tells Vanyaland. “Are we Blade Runner 2049ing ourselves? Are we fucked? Can I help? Does it matter? Most of the Brett catalogue is personal/emotional, but this collection tries to engage our connection to society. The idea that ‘half of us are cool/half of us are cursed… half of us are born/half of us will burn’ radiates strongly for me when I look at the growing divisions around us.”

“Roman Candle,” the first track from Brett’s forthcoming EP, Half (out March 16), establishes a new era for the group as their guitars riffs curdle, The Cure-style. Complete with a limited edition cassettes that feature a bonus track, Half is the followup to Brett’s 2017 EP Mustangs.


“The EP is definitely a different sonic direction from the rest of our catalogue,” Coogan adds. “I have always loved noise music, and when pop songs incorporate dissonance, It can be a great juxtaposition to melody. Some of my favorite artists like Frank Ocean (Blonde), Kanye (Yeezus), Yvette, Japanese Breakfast, and Smashing Pumpkins implement noise in melodic ways. The Half EP relies on layers of guitar feedback to try to emotionally convey some of the chaotic feelings of powerlessness and gloom. I also just think feedback sounds cool. And for me melodically, The Cure and New Order have the most tasteful interplay of guitar and vocal melodies in pop, so they are huge influences to my music.”

Paired with the unfortunate plethora of political inspiration and current cultural divides, the moody elements of the track make for one step closer to the dark side — and towards the overall acknowledgment of the issue to begin with.

“The American political and social climate breeds this perfect chaotic numbness — like some type of mass disassociation where everyone can believe whatever social/political/emotional path that is most convenient to them,” Coogan explains. “And the current administration values this chaos and disassociation over everything else — and it’s our job to fight the numbness but also find and create and foster something good. The administration’s values are antithetical to everything I believe in, but I am reminded of them constantly. So in the midst of this shitstorm you hope to somehow have a “roman candle” moment where you can find happiness and beauty in the world — even for two seconds — but it seems increasingly dark.”

Featured image courtesy of the band.