Brass Bed: “I’ll Be There With Bells On”

There’s magic in taking a three-minute pop song and mind-bending the psych-pop heck out of it. It’s a trick The Zombies perfected way back when, and reprised (and expanded upon) in the 90s by the fine folks at Elephant 6. These days, Lafayette, Louisiana’s Brass Bed are picking up where they left off, and they’re doin’ a pretty bang-up job at it.

The foursome have two LPs under their belt (2008’s Midnight Matinee and 2010’s Melt White). Their latest, The Secret Will Keep You, comes out this week, and it even has an Austin pedigree. Brass Bed decamped from from Lafayette, and headed to Austin to record the album with Danny Reisch at Jim Eno’s Public Hi Fi recording studio. A marathon 10-day recording session yielded a record that’s light on its feet, but heavy on the heart. There’s The band, aided by Reisch’s signature playful production touch, jaunts through tunes like the woozy opener “Cold Chicory” and the flower-powered “How To Live In A Bad Dream.”

They are, for the most part, sunny-sounding tunes. But with sunshine always comes shade. There’s a loneliness, an eagerness for company, lurking just below the surface on The Secret. Sometimes it’s obvious, like on “Please Don’t Go,” (they reference the title later in the record on the aforementioned “How To Live”), but sometimes it’s not so obvious. “I’ll Be There With Bells On” seems like a stomping rocker with a nice little sugary psych break-down in the middle. But the lyrics hint at some deep insecurity. The protagonist just wants to be told what to do, where to go, and what to say. By the end, he repeats the line “I won’t be a coward” over and over again. He’s trying to convince himself, but the rising force with which he shouts his mantra adds a little menace to the sweetness. At just under two-and-a-half minutes it’s a quick pop assault, but one that’ll bend your mind a bit if you just do a little digging.

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