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Brijitte West and the desparate hopefuls

March 13, 2012

First published March 2010

Brijitte used to lead the successful New York band punk band NY Loose. Relocating to London this solo CD finds her playing to her strengths. She has a vocal style which combines sass with a hint of vulnerability in the way of prime Chrissie Hynde. She writes concise songs which are carefully arranged to bring out the hooks. Her backing musicians do everything required of them  – a solid rhythm section, short solos and very effective backing vocals. A taut production by Brijitte and Mark Bhalla achieves the Powertrash sound of peak period Replacements. There are echoes too of Westerberg in the songwriting, especially noticeable in should-be-a-single ‘All Roads Lead To You’. I also like the way that opening track ‘Hard To Believe’ sounds like walking into a party that’s already going full-tilt.

Further kudos here for keeping the number of songs down to ten, resulting in a dynamic 35 minutes rather than the enervating hour-long marathon so endemic these days. Hearts are worn on sleeves with a dedication to Dee Dee, Joey and Johnny. ‘Walk Out’  is almost a Heartbreakers homage, all ‘ Chinese Rocks’ vocals and Thunders guitars.

Reservations? I have two. Firstly whilst ‘Bitter And Twisted’ provides a welcome change of pace more textural variation would also be a good idea. The classic two guitar/bass/drums line-up is deployed well here but would benefit from some leavening – maybe some piano or some accoustic guitar to broaden the sonic palette.

Secondly the cover undersells the music. A distressed image of a scantily-clad Brijitte in the bath reeks of OD-chic. Far better is the vibrant image on the back of the CD which sees a feisty Brijitte surrounded by the young turks in her band. And printing the lyrics only emphasises Mick Jagger’s point that it is more fun to work them out for yourself.

Still, Courtney Love should make a record this convincing. These tracks  will undoubtedly come to life onstage and I recommend attendance at the Dublin Castle on March 27th where I have no doubt Brijitte and her band will be both Desparate and Hopeful.

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