Bringing together pop-punk melodies and a quirky vocal style with deeply revealing lyrics – the sort that lean back and forth between carefree, comical, and decidedly intimate – Brett Reel keeps things hopeful and honest throughout his brand new EP Hotdogs & Vodka.
Featuring a somewhat home-made and fairly raw vocal-line, Just in Time (For The Worst Of Times) starts off the project, backed by an electro-pop soundscape of bright and hopeful ambiance.
The lyrics are incredibly self-aware from the outset, so any negative thoughts seem to be addressed in a subtle way, and by the time the latter half hook drops in there’s a welcomed sense of escape and uplift to the whole thing.
It’s a slow-burning style, a little nostalgic, and completely in tune with Brett’s own sound and intentions as an artist; something that continues to shine brightly throughout this EP.
They’re Not Coming Back follows the opener, suddenly feeling more forlorn and emotional, redirecting any thoughts of humour from earlier. Keys-led and acoustic, minimalist, with a breathy melody and a poetic, initially vague storyline. Even though the mood is notably different, the voice and the lyrical, diary-like outpouring, blending rap and melody to a degree, all proves distinctly Reel.
A sense of acceptance follows uncertainty, Brett’s song-writing appearing to be a clear part of the process of overcoming struggle. In this respect, Hotdogs & Vodka is a fairly brilliant title for the EP. The depths pass by, the focus becomes on escapism, lightness, the little things.
Further acoustic intimacy and melodic embrace lights up a hopeful musicality and contrasting lyrical ache for Disaster. All the while the YouTube playlist showcases the artist in a number of settings, simple again yet strangely captivating as he performs his way through this collection. Disaster proves something of a highlight, poetic again, reflective and deeply thought-provoking as the artist connects ideas and images in a relatable, hypnotic fashion.
Beautiful piano-work and a wash of low synths draw focus immediately for a breathy and tired introduction to Certain. Another highlight, gorgeous and melodically addictive for the resolve. As always, Brett’s lyrics pave their own way, never resorting to familiar phrases but maintaining an original and often unedited, authentic air of truth.
While the opening track of Hotdogs & Vodka prompts the listener to consider how serious or emotional the EP is set to be, the following four tracks slowly but surely redirect things, to the point that you’re ultimately connected to the artist and to this unparalleled display of vulnerability and openness.
Things round up with an energising, conceptually summarising Porcelain Shades of Blue, within which we get a faster pace vocally, a simple backdrop, an acoustic pop-punk edge and an ultimately breathless outpouring that makes sure to detail every step of the journey before things come to a finish.
A self-defined man of words, Brett Reel lays bare a definite level of identity with his music. The songs are increasingly interesting, genuine, and heart-warming in their purity and contemplation. A style of his own right now, and an EP that’s a pleasure to delve into.
Check out Brett Reel on IG.