“Isn’t everyone happy to be a lemming walking on the cliff and over into the sea?” Well misery does love company, but the musical question being posed by Andy Chase and Brookville on “Happy,” the bouncy little lyrical downer of an opening track on Broken Lights certainly sets a high water mark for the rest of an album filled with tales of relationship ambivalence, two-step-back romance, aimlessness in life, and regained toeholds.
The melancholic pop complexity of the standout “Great Mistake” even advocates the perverse idea of inducing loss — “now [that ] we see the cracks come out” — for a potential greater good, for the adventurous and soul-restorative benefit of a fresh start:
If you really love me, you will let me make
the great mistake of leaving you.
If you really love me you will let me go
to find out what I’m meant to do.
As Broken Lights signifies Chase’s resuming work with Brookville after a break, he can be considered as one who let himself free to “find out what I’m meant to do.” That is, in addition to being a musician in Brookville, the studioholic Chase, as a member of the band Ivy, co-owner of the Unfiltered record label; the producer of artists Juliana Hatfield, Trashcan Sinatras, and Tahiti 80; owner of Stratosphere Sound recording studio along with James Iha (Smashing Pumpkins) and Adam Schlesinger (Ivy, Fountains of Wayne); film composer (Shallow Hal) — needed some time off.
But it turns out what Chase was meant to do, after pulling himself out of some recharging reclusiveness, was tackle the third Brookville album but take a different tack. And ultimately the qualities that most immediately mark the departure CD Broken Lights from the previous two works, Wonderfully Nothing (2003) and Life in the Shade (2006), includes the recording of Chase’s usually ethereal vocals more firmly front and center in a live production by Tahiti 80’s bassist Pedro Resende, with backing by Tahiti 80’s drummer Sylvain Marchand and guitarist Bruce Driscoll.