Pittsburgh’s André Costello, supported by his Cool Minors (a moniker that referenced his guitar chords back when he was a solo artist, and now refers to his backing band) plays rousin’, ramblin’ indie rock that could soundtrack a leisurely drive through the country.
Costello’s new single, “Brighter Than Before,” is his first release with the Cool Minors since 2018’s Resident Frequencies (Misra Records). It’s a catchy, straightforward track, a brisk jaunt on a clear autumn day, complete with sturdy drums, gentle curls of guitar gradually supplanted by power chords, and plenty of wordless vocal swoons. Imagine you’re at the optometrist, and they show you “Picture A” and “Picture B,” and ask which one is clearer. “Picture A” is this song, crystalline and defined, and “Picture B” is this same song on a War on Drugs album. In other words, “Brighter Than Before,” done blurry and hazy, surrounded by a corona of light, would sound right at home on Wagonwheel Blues or Slave Ambient. The song’s lyrics are emotionally ambiguous; Costello is “feeling like a ghost,” but has also “come to realize/we’re not between the lines anymore.” He’s a little bit sad, a little bit lost, a little bit free, and entirely cool with it all.