Personnel: Brian Christinzio (vocals, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, saxophone, piano, Mellotron, keyboards, synthesizer, vibraphone, bass guitar, percussion, Theremin); Hattie Coombe, Zora King (Mellotron).
Recording information: Manchester, UK.
New Jersey native Brian Christinzo, who operates under the nom de plume BC Camplight, released a pair of generally well-received, piano-driven psych-pop albums in 2005 and 2007 and then promptly went underground, only half-jokingly describing himself at the time as "the guy who blew it." In 2012 he relocated to Manchester, England and set about rebuilding his confidence, and the resulting Bella Union-issued How to Die in the North sounds like the product of an artist restored. Bold, beautiful, campy, heartbreaking, and flush with moxie, Christinzo's third outing is a left-field gem; an indie rock distillation of '60s and '70s chamber pop tropes that prefers Nilsson over Newman, Todd Rundgren over Lennon & McCartney, Dennis Wilson over Brian Wilson, and fearlessly (though not always flawlessly) goes all in for the big pop moment. A nuanced, human, and lovingly constructed blend of road trip-ready earworms ("You Should Have Gone to School," "Thieves in Antigua"), breezy cocktail stirrers ("Love Isn't Anybody's Fault"), and shamelessly-lay-on-your-bedroom-floor-and-sob-piano ballads ("Atom Bomb," Why Doesn't Anybody Fall in Love"), the latter of which features a chorus that smartly invokes Harry Nilsson's "Without You" without succumbing to that iconic tearjerker's (admittedly) delicious levels of schmaltz. At just nine tracks, the album is as economical as it is overflowing with pure pop goodness. It may have been a rough journey between works for Christinzo, but periods of unrest are best served back to the world through art, and despite the unsavory ingredients he may have used in its making, How to Die in the North is an undeniably tasty dish, served hot or cold. ~ James Christopher Monger