Brightr & Tim Holehouse – ‘Brightr Vs. Tim Holehouse’

By Sean Reid

Split EPs have long since been embedded in independent music. For the bands and artists involved, it allows them to work together while simultaneously pushing each other to their respective fanbase. In short, you’re getting two for the price of one. Despite fans’ listening habits gradually moving towards playlists and bands / artists opting for standalone singles and EPs, the potential of what a split EP can do remains.

So that brings us to Brightr and Tim Holehouse. Individually, Holehouse and Brightr (AKA Laurie Cottingham) are two acoustic singer-songwriters with a deep DIY ethos. It’s one that expands to this split EP, receiving a limited cassette release. ‘Vs.’ allows both to showcase their work.

Cottingham’s half of the EP sees him contribute five new songs. If you’re familiar with his work, then you’ll know Brightr specialises in writing “gloomy emo pop” songs that are equally raw and memorable. ‘Definitely’ and ‘Honestly, Honest’ are examples of that here with the latter being lyrically sincere, complemented by plucky acoustics providing a downbeat mood in the process. In contrast, ‘Definitely’, along with ‘Just So You Know’, are sprightly in their execution, anchored by Cottingham’s sincerity.

As he strums away, his voice soars with confidence, providing a sense of optimism through the cloud of loss and troubling experiences Cottingham draws from. Furthermore, they’re resonating hooks (like on ‘Housefires’) bringing a poppy sensibility, while his cover of Holehouse’s ‘Gainesville City Limits’ is a spirited offering, highlighting its anthemic quality.

As for Portsmouth’s Tim Holehouse, his side gives an insight into his fleshed out, varied style. Consisting of two new tracks, a demo, a live track, and a cover of Brightr’s ‘Mark Strong’, Tim’s offering is considerably more diverse. ‘Staring at My Shoes, as You Reach For The Sky (Is This How Your Heart Works?)’, for example, is a brooding number with dark, atmospheric (electric) guitar rumbling away, with harmonious glimpses.

Demo offering, ’Brightr Days,’ dwells with raspy blues-ness as soft drums and Holehouse’s weathered, hushed voice create a regretful-to-optimistic tone. With intertwining acoustics, it’s a pleasant track that complements his Newport-based counterpart.

Unfortunately, ‘Coincidence That Sets a Smile’ is the weakest track on the EP. A straightforward acoustic number that doesn’t leave a lasting impression. Tim’s take of ‘Mark Strong’ follows and is charmingly delivered. His sincere voice is complemented by succulent strings, creating a rose-tinted tone. Closing with a live version of ‘Gainesville City Limits’, Holehouse’s weathered voice puts a regretful cloak over the song, making it feel raw compared to Cottingham’s earlier version.

‘Vs’ nicely achieves its purpose; highlighting the talent of both Brightr and Tim Holehouse. They have respectively demonstrated their tonal versatility while remaining rooted in their DIY origins. Brightr’s forlorn and rosy deposition is complemented by Holehouse’s seasoned shade. It’s ultimately a well-balanced split EP that has enough variety to keep you interested until the end.

SÊAN REID

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