Album Review: The Bright Light Social Hour – Jude Vol.II

Well known across the Southern states for their unique take on psychedelic indie rock, Austin’s The Bright Light Social Hour has a sound that could be truly global. Prolific in their output, the new album Jude Vol.II is the second part of an album series that blends elements of shoegaze, indie, electronica, alt-pop and everything in between to create something truly unique. It’s a sound that’s earned them fans across the U.S and slots at massive festivals including Lollapalooza and Austin City Limits.

The new album is a stunning piece of work, celebrating all that’s great about the band – but it’s underpinned by a real tragedy that occurred just before the writing process. The band’s manager, and vocalist Jackie O'Brien's brother was suffering from severe bipolar disorder when he unexpectedly took his life, causing unimaginable torment in the group.

"It was a terrible thing, but it was also the most beautiful thing I’ve ever experienced and probably will ever experience,” Jackie says. “This was all happening as we started the record. Not all the songs are about Alex, but I think even the ones that aren’t all have a bittersweet mix of overwhelming beauty and terrible loss. The music deals with the ripples it caused in all of our lives.”

As a result, there’s a tangible melancholy throughout the album, though it’s rarely directly addressed lyrically. The entire album has an incredible groove, starting with the breakbeat psychedelic sounds of “You Got My Feel.” It’s a journey through different influences with plenty of electronica thrown in for good measure. A highlight is “Enough,” which has a great danceability to it and a perfectly weighted bass groove. As the album develops, the tracks become more experimental with “Ouroboros 20” as a standout from the second half of the album.

A testament to the idea that great art can come from great tragedy, Austin’s The Bright Light Social Hour has proved this theory outright with this project. Jude Vol.II is an absolute, psychedelic gem. 

Get your copy of the album here and stream it below.