Thirteen months after releasing their debut EP, ‘Young Champion’, Fredericton’s Brookside Mall has just released their followup, ‘Preservation’. A catchy blend of reverberating vocals, electric organ, synth, guitar, and drums, ‘Preservation’ is a short collection of charming indie pop songs, weighted heavily with the understated introspection of their complex lyricism.
Opening with the synth-driven ‘Eternal Summer’, Brookside Mall sets an appropriate tone for the rest of the album with its first few lines:
“Now thinking about it, I am an engineer/Having layered on my grief since the twilight of last year/Oh, every rising storey is reaching out to you/Just to topple under weight of an unrelenting truth/That you’re six months in to the hardest year of your life.”
Though every song approaches it differently, the core themes of difficult memories, despondence, and personal struggle resonate throughout the entire LP. Though ‘Eternal Summer’ takes a fairly defeated tone, closing on the line “We’re trying to find a way, but I don’t believe we might,” this does not ring true for the album as a whole.
The following track, ‘Preservation’, dwells on the memories of an old relationship, its chorus lamenting that “I’m ‘just one of the guys’ to you now,” though it takes less of a pessimistic tone, hinting at a final acceptance of this change both through the lyrics and the song’s mixture of upbeat and mournful melodies.
A slower track dominated by electric organ, bass synth and emotionally charged vocals, ‘Spring’ is a nostalgic tribute to fond memories, filled with pained longing to return to the way things were, to halt the passage of time, and to reclaim what was lost. In a similar vein though with much different sound is Brookside Mall’s cover of Casiotone For The Painfully Alone’s ‘Natural Light‘. Much more upbeat, catchy, and spirited than Owen Ashworth’s original version, the song looks back at a long-past relationship, and while acknowledging the pain, the regrets, and how much both have changed since, ‘Natural Light’ chooses to focus on the positive memories found in the calm before the storm.
The album closes with two of the strongest tracks in Brookside Mall’s discography. The first, ‘Technicolor’, is a bright-sounding, quick-paced track standing in defiance of internalized negativity and the impulsive decisions and downward spirals it can lead to. With charming organ riffs, endearing vocals, and an infectious rhythm, ‘Technicolor’ shows Brookside Mall as the indie-pop darlings they ought to be recognized as. ‘Preservation’s closing track, ‘Garden,’ has more musical complexity than the rest of the album, and wields it with finesse. With a slow open, backing strings, and rising energy, ‘Garden’ builds to a powerful, emotionally-charged chorus with the passionate plea to overcome a decaying relationship’s melancholy and the tragic knowledge that it still might not be enough.
Though only clocking in at fifteen minutes, ‘Preservation’ is still a solid testament to Brookside Mall’s musicianship, with a musically diverse selection of solid tracks. Featuring a more refined sound than ‘Young Champions,’ the songs from ‘Preservation’ could all stand on their own, and together form a well-rounded and thoroughly enjoyable LP. Through deeply poetic lyrics, compelling sound, and an honest feel in their songwriting, Brookside Mall has charmed their way into our hearts yet again.