Album Review: BC Camplight – Deportation Blues

Stepping away from his signature lo-fi indie pop, BC Camplight’s new album is a deliciously delirious take on modern day politics and personal trauma. Throwing out the softly spoken acoustics of earlier work and embracing fizzing synths, cut-and-paste songwriting and acidic licks, Deportation Blues is the bewildering masterpiece 2018 deserves. Whilst making huge leaps musically, the incisive wit of his previous work is preserved within sticky experimental edges.

bc camplight - deportation blues artwork

This could be the album Arcade Fire were apparently aiming for with Everything Now, but had neither the courage, imagination or talent to pull it off. Luckily, Brian Christinzio possesses all three in such abundance Win Butler would do well to take note (the fact that Christinzio and Butler have spookily similar voices is a passing coincidence). For example, lead single ‘I’m Desperate’ captures the paranoid, full-throttle disco Butler and co. were falling short of with incredible ease. Elsewhere, consider the eponymous opening track which blends Tame Impala synths with haunting melodies, echoing Metronomy’s wonky-pop whilst somehow balancing it with thrashing electro punk in the vein of Australian duo The Garden. It’s a melting pot of eccentric ideas whilst still remaining distinctly BC Camplight at its heart.

And while musically it’s constantly transforming – ‘Hell or Pennsylvania’ is a gorgeous ballad punctuated by self-aware and smoky jazz breakdowns, ’Am I Dead Yet?’ is Bitte Orca-era Dirty Projectors channelled through space-age opera – the lyrics are both piercingly insightful and comfortingly vague. Informed by Christinzio’s tumultuous journey back to the UK post-deportation and the Brexit verdict being reached soon after, his lyricism is a self-reflective, surreal wander through his hellish history.

Deportation Blues might not hold on to any fans of past BC Camplight releases (bar the dreamy waltz of ‘Midnight Ease’) but it doesn’t need to – this is an incredible body of work. Like a sprawling fever dream cut into 9 inventive episodes, it’s an album custom built for the turmoil of 2018 from a place of very personal pain. Deportation Blues is one of many oddball gems 2018 has thrown at us – this one is a cut above the rest.