Brightness is Alex Knight, a fifth-generation Australian who grew up in Lake Macquarie, a few hours north of Sydney. Alex wrote his first guitar songs on a water-damaged four-track cassette recorder, selling his music to mates at school, and then promptly spending the profits at the canteen. Like many musicians from Australia, he looked to London with saucer eyes, and moved there not long after graduating high school. He found promising starts as a drummer and even toured the world. But London was changing him in a bad way, and a number of negatives set in. By the end of his time there, he found himself sitting alone in the dark of his flat, unable to get up or out. “You’ve lost your poise again,” he sings “so you neck a few more pills and hope that it’s enough to get you through the day.”
Anybody who’s brushed up with the grind of city life will find comfort and companionship in “Teething”, Brightness’s forthcoming debut LP (out later this year). When Alex moved back home to regroup in 2015, he wrote these songs as a way to untangle himself and make sense of his encounters. The lyric is brutal, but the music is far from a bummer – a celebration of having emerged at the other end. Songs like “Oblivion” and “Surrender” pair Alex’s sharp introspection to joyous scuzzy guitar rock, while “Waltz” is a hissy bedroom number whose detail and conversational style recalls Mark Linkous or Elliott Smith. Speaking of Smith, Alex played and recorded all the instruments himself – all meticulously presented, down to which details not to be so meticulous about. The result is music that’s unusually intimate and personal, like a late night phone call with a close friend: as if Brightness is somehow listening to you as much as you are listening to him.
“Oblivion” is his first single, out worldwide on I Oh You (Violent Soho, DMA’s, DZ Deathrays) and with support in the US from Godmode (Shamir, Yvette, Yaeji).