As Graffiti6’s sophomore album The Bridge opens, with the deep echo of piano keys introducing a short, stripped version of “Beside You” before transitioning into the album’s massive title track, it becomes clear that Jamie Scott and Tommy “TommyD” Danvers have experienced just as large a musical evolution since the original 2010 release of debut album Colours. Since then, the Colours album era produced notable singles in “Free” and “Stare Into The Sun,” while each member of the duo expanded their horizons individually — Scott’s songwriting played a major role in the breakout success of One Direction, and he added songwriter credits for Christina Perri, Michael Kiwanuka, 5 Seconds of Summer, Little Mix, and more; Danvers, meanwhile, provided production and orchestration work for several artists, including fun., Emeli Sandé, Tinie Tempah, and Oasis frontman Noel Gallagher. Accordingly, the sound of Graffiti6 as an ensemble has grown as well, drawing from each member’s new influences. Throughout the album’s fifteen tracks, layers of background harmonies, expressive piano and string lines, and production elements pack a punch behind sentimental lyrics of love and loss, creating a wide, expansive soundscape that is as engaging over the long term as it is catchy upon the first listen.
One of the highlights of The Bridge is its title track, in which heavy percussive beats, guitar slides, and impassioned harmonies surround lyrics that evoke loss and helplessness, searching for a comfort zone after a breakup. A similar lost sentiment is heard in an ode for restless insomniacs, “Losing My Mind,” followed by the post-breakup tale of living “Separate Lives,” whose extended coda is a tender, yearning cry: Scott cries out “I miss you, I miss you here, miss your love…” as a soft bed of synths, echoing vocals, and a string line builds until it seemingly ascends into the clouds. Previously-released Christmas song “No Snow” is also included, a smoldering original take on the themes of the classic “Blue Christmas.” However, not everything is dark and dismal, as evidenced by the album’s kaleidoscopic cover artwork: Graffiti6 returns to their familiar theme of sunshine, comparing it to the feeling of love on upbeat track “U Got The Sunshine;” on the intro and extended versions of “Beside You” that serve as the album’s bookends, a couple resolves to stay together through thick and thin.
In addition to several songs with a more traditional, radio-friendly structure, The Bridge includes multiple cuts more akin to jam sessions, following in the footsteps of debut album track “Calm The Storm.” While “Washed My Sins,” which first premiered on YouTube last May, continues to build into a frenzy with each refrain, others (“We Fall Forever,” “Resting Place”) feel a little too long and repetitive even despite their fluid instrumental sections. However, to their credit, these work to provide more focus on the band’s multifaceted production and instrumentation, which draw from the duo’s vast array of musical influences. Like on their debut album Colours, Scott’s smooth vocals are enhanced by TommyD’s production skills — from the sweeping strings on “Separate Lives” to the frenetic beats in “Washed My Sins” and “We Fall Forever,” the production showcases the musical expansion and invention that Graffiti6 has experienced since the release of Colours. As a result, The Bridge is a follow-up release that is anything but a sophomore slump — instead, it is the musical result of looking through a kaleidoscope, demonstrating a formidable melange of genres and influences that shifts boundaries while staying true to the band’s own formula of charming lyricism and adventurous genre-hopping.