Montana native Charlee Remitz, alongside contemporaries like Lana Del Ray, represents a brave new world of sorts for pop music. Her style synthesizes hard-nosed lyrical realism, steadfastly rejecting sugarcoated songwriting, with the glistening textures of modern pop to spectacular effect. The eight tracks on her album Bright White Trims covers a gamut of sonic possibilities with a distinctly modern sheen, but nevertheless carries substantive musical and conceptual weight. She demonstrates a penchant for surprising imagery and, while there’s never a moment on the album where the keyboards and posturing fall away into a four-piece rock band, Remitz’s raucous spirit is pure 100% rock and roll to its core.
Vibrant keyboard work and a thunderous rhythm section highlight the opener, “King’s Cup”. The aforementioned synthesis is on full display here. Remitz’s flexible voice exploits the pop and r&b strengths of the track equally and her phrasing is key. Bright White Trims isn’t afraid to embrace hooks as “Fillin’ In For a Goddess” makes clear – the track employs Remitz’s vocal melody in such a way that it’s virtually impossible to finish this track and not find yourself humming it afterwards. Remitz brings guitars out in a much more pronounced fashion here and it helps spin the song in a different direction from the album’s other entries. “Cake Eater” veers into decidedly adult territory, but Remitz clearly has the time of her life with this material and the backing track similarly pops, twists, and turns in exciting ways.
“BMW” has a nice songwriting twist not often found in this genre, but the music covers familiar ground with its keyboard playing and hip-hop style percussion. Remitz emerges from songs like this not sounding like she’s cut from the same cloth as any number of bling-obsessed performers, but instead, she positions herself as a strong-willed individual focused more on people in her songs than artificiality. However, she takes rap/hip-hop on in full with the track “Bitches and Ladders”. Any inclination you might have to dismiss the ability of a white girl from Montana to deliver credibly this sort of material should be immediately dustbinned. Remitz keeps a firm pop influence guiding the track, but bristles and burns with attitude that any gangster rapper would cheer on gleefully. “Juicebox Season” is a much more club-oriented tune that bubbles over with catchy effervescence and a steady, propulsive tempo that pushes the listener without ever overwhelming them. “Stucco Houses” isn’t far removed from the preceding song in terms of intent, but this is clearly a little more reflective and eschews percussion in favor of slowly developing electronic melodies. Bright White Trims closes with the lightly Ska influenced “Routines” and, after the wildly contrasting elements defining the release up to this point, this bit of pleasing and quietly confident musical fun ends the album perfectly.
by Jason Hillenburg