“Do you feel what I feel too?” Brijean Murphy floats the question at the start of Feelings, the full-length Ghostly International debut from Brijean, her collaborative project with Doug Stuart. Guided by a lush mix of charismatic keyboard chords, grooving bass lines, and radiant bongo-driven rhythms, the “Day Dreaming” lyric doubles as an invitation and a statement of intention. Brijean want you to move, physically, mentally, dimensionally; this is dance music for the mind, body, and soul. With Feelings, they’ve manifested a gentle collective space for respite, for self-reflection, for self-care, for uninhibited imagination and new possibilities. The album cultivates a specific vibe, a softness Murphy has come to call “romancing the psyche.”
The leap from Walkie Talkie to Feelings is marked by a notable expanse in range and energy. Brijean’s signature sound — a golden-hued dream pop tropicalia of dazzling beats and honeyed vocals — elevates with the addition of live drummers, strings, and synths. The album also finds Murphy fully trusting in her strengths, not just as a percussionist, but as a songwriter and collaborator. Aforementioned album opener “Day Dreaming” is a dynamic celebration of newness: the excitement in finding deeper understandings of yourself as you get to know someone, something, or somewhere new. “Wifi Beach” drops a pin in pure psych-pop exotica.
With Atwal on drums, Stuart on bass, Peppers on keys, and Bear engineering, the group improvised the track’s intro sequence based on the vision of a lavish 1970s pool party. Establishing the scene is a mid-frequency drum kit disco shuffle augmented by tight congas and timbale effect, as Murphy sings in spurts: “I want to be / Deep in love / I want to be / Say you love me too / I want to be / Honey.” The stanzas cut between “reflective moments of wants and being overwhelmed by feelings of the present,” she explains. “A lot of the ‘love songs’ I write are to my psyche, self-reflections on how to encourage tender perspectives and make more time for the sweet stuff.”
Though there is a loose, dance-oriented motif throughout, the material gives way to somnolent turns. On “Ocean,” Brijean’s anodyne lyrics, reminiscent of Astrud Gilberto’s airy croon, float atop a brushed drum pattern, sparkling rhodes lines, and pittering and softly funky woodblock bops. The opening line sets up the rest, “In this gentle space we lay” — among the album’s propensity for movement, tracks like “Ocean” stand out by leaning back for momentary sways of blissful introspection. Murphy calls the charming “Hey Boy” a “psychedelic guide — the exploration of finding what feels good — through sorrow, anxiety, apathy.” This mentality applies to Feelings on the whole: in these nebulous and verdant worlds of hazy melodies, feathery hooks, and percussive details, the songs simply want us to feel alive. They radiate in wonderful abandon and with a sense of devotion to the self.