Bryde: The Volume of Things | Review
This is not the first time Sarah Howells has been on the brink of larger success with a smartly written, well-arranged pop record. The Volume of Things, her second album as Bryde, is the latest in a line of projects stretching back to the early 2000s, all constantly on the verge of stardom before a change in course feels necessary. Her previous band, Paper Aeroplanes, released the kind of friendly, folksy records that rarely find critical acclaim or commercial success, but manage to develop a modest fanbase anyway via niche folk blogs and rotation on BBC’s adult contemporary station Radio 2 next to Bear’s Den and Billie Marten. The praise still came with caveats like “old-fashioned” and “hardly in vogue”. Howells’ work in Bryde was darker, culminating in the moody breakup album Like An Island in 2018. Bryde. But The Volume of Things once again embraces the sweetness of her Paper Aeroplanes work. It feels smaller, but the lower stakes fit an album about finding peace of mind amid sensory overload.
It’s not a groundbreaking album (this is a record that rhymes “fire” with “desire” within its first 30 seconds, then does it again several songs later), but on an album that feels designed to be accessible, that’s the point. The best lyrics on the record narrow the scope to a search for connection, viewing love as a way to be unburdened: “Another Word for Free” repeats, “Would you be the weight off my shoulders?” while on “Paper Cups,” Howells wants ...
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