Bern & The Brights: Swing Shift Maisies

Bern & The Brights have been on the lips of music enthusiasts in the tri-state area with their frequent touring and independent releases. With their newest EP, the Montclair, NJ,-based band explores elements of indie-rock, folk and pop arrangements, veering away from their usual soul influence.

Opening track “Boo” starts off simply, with only a violin melody, singer Bernadette Malavarca’s vulnerable croon and acoustic guitar accompaniment. But the song quickly builds with layers of eerie violin and cello harmonies and wispy drum work, which amps up the emotion of the lyric “It’s been too long since I’ve been myself.

Malavarca’s quivering and passionate vocals are what first draws listeners in, particularly on “Sangria Peaches” with its folk influence and pop arrangement. The track also showcases the band’s playful instrumentation as they layer and alternate castanets, keyboard, tambourine and timbales over their usual violin and guitar. At one point, they even throw in a two-tone beat. The final track, “It Goes Like That,” finishes the eclectic album with twangy electric guitar work, energetic percussion rhythms, and charming three-part female harmonies, morphing the track into a modern honky tonk hit.

Bern & The Brights display the promising future of DIY music on Swing Shift Maisies. Although all tracks go past the four-minute mark, the EP is a hearty work filled with indie and folk gold that never becomes redundant or boring. Swing Shift Maisies is a work that flows remarkably well, regardless of any style changes.

In A Word: Refreshing