Of Brighter Skies is a pop-punk band based out of Madison, WI. and in November 2018, they released their EP for “Nowhere Kids.”
Poetic, full of heart, well-articulated, and just deceivingly fun is how I would describe Of Brighter Skies, and this five-track EP captures that masterfully. Whether it’s a good or bad thing, they remind me of the pop-punk bands I got hooked on in middle school, in the early 2000s. They say the music you listen to during those formative middle school years is pretty much where you tend to stay from there on out, so to me, this was a nostalgic sound that was a breath of fresh air, and I was hooked again.
Track 1: Sweater Weather
“Why is it always snowing outside of my car?/ It’s always so cloudy I can’t see the stars/ I’ve heard stories about all the Midwest summers, and the fires that always seem to keep me together/ But the forecast is calling for more than sweater weather.”
If this isn’t the absolute pop-punk anthem for Wisconsin, I just don’t know what is. This song makes me picture myself behind the wheel of my crappy Craigslist Cavalier, driving without a care on I-39 heading back north to my hometown. Windows down, wayfarer sunglasses on, Of Brighter Skies blasting through my speakers, and I don’t even care that the douchebag in front of me didn’t use his turn signal to jump in front of me. The air is humid and hot, but the breeze is calming, and I brought a sweater just in case it gets chilly when the sun goes down (spoiler alert: It will. It always freaking does even on 90 degree days).
“Anywhere else is better than here/ They say the grass is always greener/ This winter got the best of me/ You can tell by my demeanor.”
Yeah. Winter sucks. These guys definitely know Wisconsin. Yet for some reason, we keep hanging around this little Midwest hole. And those who get out? Most of them end up back here. Sure the grass is always greener, but home is home even when it chills you to the bone, and summer always comes sooner or later (usually later).
Track 2: Way Back When
“Take me back to way back when/ where all the things that were left unsaid/ didn’t mean anything/ to anyone but me/ Take me back to simple days/ where the biggest plans we ever made/ was playing in the backyard with the ones we called our friends/ yeah way back when”
I think, no matter what genre you tend to lean into, everyone has or has had moments in their life that can relate to this song, especially the chorus. I’m gonna say it, and I know everyone can agree with me: BEING AN ADULT SUCKS.
“I didn’t think about our future/ or the things we haven’t done/ we just lived in the moment until our time was gone”
I think if we all had a chance to be taken back to “way back when” things were simple, when nothing mattered, when the days were long, and in a good way, most of us would take it. This song captures that feeling perfectly to me.
Track 3: Bonfires
“Whatever happened to us?/ Whatever happened to those summer nights we’d stay out till dusk/ And I miss those bonfires/ I miss the way you’d whisper in my ear and say that I’m still here/ And now I need you.”
Ah, young summer love…almost all of us have dealt with it at one point or another, no? Whether it was sneaking out late at night to get five minutes alone with your crush, or having deep and meaningful conversation with that beautiful stranger that gave you your first beer, the memory of “that summer” is tainted with both a happy nostalgia and an unrequited sadness that you don’t know if you’ll ever stop thinking about. Primarily using an acoustic guitar for this song really laid into the feeling of that happy/sad memory you’ll never be able to shake. I don’t know about you, but this song definitely brings one person to my mind without question, and I feel that if you close your eyes and just listen to the echo of that person that broke your heart and left with the changing season, you’ll relate too.
“And darling make sure/ when I’m not around/ you’ll still hear my sound through your stereo/ And make sure/ you roll the windows down/ as you parade this sound when you’re Cali-bound.”
The heartfelt chant belting the outro really put the cherry on this sundae, and if I’m being honest, it hit me in the feels and brought a tear to my eye; easily my favorite song on this record.
The season changed, and so did you, and so did they. Maybe they left because it was your fault. Maybe they left because it was theirs. Maybe they think you’re the guilty one. Maybe you’ll never know. If you’re being truthful with yourself, that person always held a special place in your heart, even now, and you hope they never forgot about you either. I don’t know about you, but this song definitely brings one person to my mind without question, and I feel that if you close your eyes and just listen to the echo of that person that broke your heart and left with the changing season, you’ll relate too.
You’re thinking of that person now, aren’t you?
Track 4: Pennsylvania’s Thinking of You
“I’ve been waiting up all night/ finding sleep is one hell of a fight/ you’re always on my mind/ and I can’t come home tonight/ and I don’t know where you are/ and all I see are stars/ I wanted to see your face/ and you said you needed/ Space”
“DAMN THIS BOY IS SAD AND NOW I’M SAD TOO.”- Me, listening to this song.
Now I’m thinking of a similar someone, although it is a different someone. This someone didn’t skitter away with the wind or the tide, but rather, I fell out of place in their life. Sometimes, shit happens, and it sucks, and in a perfect world there would be no broken hearts, no dial-tones when you desperately want to hear a voice…but we live in a far-from-perfect world. This song is here to remind you that you’re not the only broken heart in the world…but it still sucks. A lot.
Track 5: Ten Times Over
“…I know that your hands are tired, your eyes are swollen and your heart is raw from being ripped open…but your love is so pure. It resonates from a boundless ocean deep inside of you. And I’m so happy that some of it poured out to reach someone as messed up as I am.”
I admit it: I’m a sucker for spoken word, and this song starts off with a couple of lines that feel like stab wounds.
That person is gone. They are not coming back. You’re bitter, you’re hurt, you “move along because there’s nothing left to see.” You want to hate that person, and as hard as you try to hate them because it would be easier…you can’t. You’re not sure if you ever will. And the worst part? You’re somehow thankful you had any time with this person at all.
But sometimes…”Fuck you!” still rings through your head at their memory.
All in all, I hereby rate this EP 5 out of 5 stars. It took me back to “way back when” and it makes my heart feel full even though it brings back memories that are sad as well as happy. I needed this, and I look forward to more gut-wrenching pop-punk sounds from Of Brighter Skies in the future.
Edited by Samantha Crocker