The Bright Smoke from Brooklyn have announced their third, forthcoming album, Gross National Happiness, due out Friday, July 5. This release will be the first in four years, and of course, quite a bit has happened (politically) since then. The album comes out the day after Independence Day, so draw any conclusions that seem fitting, and also check out the new single that’s out today — “The Lion And” — and get the first look of the anxiety-captured-in-a-photo album art, that went public for the first time today.
Previously a duo, the project now circles around songwriter, Mia Wilson. The other half of the duo, Quincy Ledbetter, is taking a hiatus, after winning a million dollars from Paramount Players and BET to make a feature film in Atlanta. Wilson will be continuing on, and playing shows, as a solo artist through the release of the album.
Deadline reported on Ledbetter’s ‘Project Cre8’ win, saying, “After a nine-month search, BET Networks and Paramount Players have named filmmaker Quincy Ledbetter as the winner of their Project Cre8 competition…Brooklyn-based Ledbetter was named the winner with his original script Alieu the Dreamer after five finalists pitched their film to a panel of television and film executives… Alieu the Dreamer is based on a world where humans haven’t dreamed for three decades, and a driven government agent discovers a struggling young man in the projects who has started dreaming. BET will purchase Ledbetter’s screenplay and work with him and Paramount Players to produce the original script.”
On the hiatus, Ledbetter says, “Last year I won the chance to make my first feature film with BET and Paramount Players. The great thing is that this is a life long dream come true. The not so great thing is that it will require me to take some time away from The Bright Smoke as I ramp up the production process. So, the great Mia Wilson will be hitting the stage to represent us on her own, but I know she’ll kill it!”
Three upcoming shows are scheduled in New York City and Brooklyn. Details below.
Themes on the forthcoming record range from reflecting on the dangers of false virtue, pushing boundaries, being the victim and the aggressor in the same breath, calling an end of violence, art as whole, and a subject dear to the band, identifying as queer.
Mia Wilson of The Bright Smoke was dubbed as one of NYLON‘s “10 Queer girls in music we’re obsessed with” and they said, “Her sultry vocals are timeless, and juxtaposed over the electronic vibes.” On being queer in 2019, Wilson says, “It’s always a bummer when we’re still dealing with erasure of any kind within our community due to internal identity policing. Radical visibility and inclusion across the spectrum is essential.”
The new single that debuted today, “The Lion And” is a commentary on hypocrisy, wanting it both ways but only as it continues to benefit you, being the victim and the aggressor in the same breath. It’s a fast and repetitive track inspired by an early 90’s riot grrrl sound.
First single and video, “Model Citizen,” sets the stage for the album and aims directly at the hypocrisy of American government. LADYGUNN, who debuted the single, says, “The two create a moody ambiance that fuses together their own style of blues and indie rock that is quite an unforgettable experience. Wilson’s voice is a huskier version and evokes an equivalent spirit of Florence Welch’s.”
Wilson, who wrote the song, says she “was inspired by watching a parade of public figures claiming to only want the best for people lobbying to do immeasurable amounts of harm to vulnerable populations. The sound and tone are upbeat with a tonally bright bridge that contradicts the meaning of the lyrics.”
With their first studio album in 4 years, The Bright Smoke will release Gross National Happiness, produced by Quincy Ledbetter. A reinvention: written as a result of their first hiatus from live performance since forming in 2012, Gross National Happiness was recorded during a two year process of reckoning with unexpected personal, public, and global upheaval. Inspired by a toggling between witnessing a world that appears to be off its axis while still remaining steeped in the petty concerns of day-to-day life, the album takes on the voices of multiple narrators each increasingly less sympathetic and redeemable.
SHOW DATES IN NYC:
7/13 – 8pm – Rockwood 1
7/17 – 10 pm – Littlefield
9/21 – 9pm – Pianos