Brilliant Corners

  • Brilliant Corners
  • Growing Up Absurd (UK SS20) 1985 
  • Fruit Machine EP (UK SS20) 1986 
  • What's in a Word (UK SS20) 1986  (McQueen) 1988 
  • Everything I Ever Wanted (UK McQueen) 1988 
  • Somebody Up There Likes Me (UK McQueen) 1988 
  • Joyride (UK McQueen) 1989 

Bristol’s Brilliant Corners are capable of the most joyous of pop sounds — bright, ringing guitars skipping through a mix of peppy drums, tight bass, trumpet and piano. By the same token, the group is also capable of the most depressing lyrics. Like Morrissey, singer/songwriter Davey Woodward has curious preoccupations — with death and dying and lost and unrequited loves. The Brilliant Corners’ music is beyond reproach, but Woodward is one miserable boy.

Growing Up Absurd, while not as striking as it might have been, sets the course for the quintet’s releases — bouncy pop with the unusual novelty of a fulltime trumpeter. The Fruit Machine EP sparkles with invention: piercing guitar lines, nimble trumpeting and keyboards make “Meet Me on Tuesdays” and “Jim’s Room” the best of these four tracks.

Brilliant Corners continued their creative expansion on What’s in a Word, adding strings and female backing vocals. The band’s greatest songs are here: “Laugh I Could’ve Cried,” “A Very Easy Death” and “Egotistical Me.” The delightful “Boy and a Cloud” suggests that Davey may not be as miserable as we think he is.

Somebody Up There Likes Me shows the Brilliant Corners at their most accomplished; musically and lyrically, they are unnervingly precise. A dozen ardent testimonials on life and love in the ’80s — “She’s Dead,” “Never a Young Girl” and “With a Kiss” are a far cry from the trite pop ditties we’ve come to expect from this kind of musical backing. It’s rare to find such soul-baring honesty in pop music.

Everything I Ever Wanted is a compilation of Growing Up Absurd and Fruit Machine.

[Altricia Gethers]