Khruangbin & Leon Bridges
Columbia Records and Night Time Stories LTD. · February 7, 2020
Texas Sun is a joint project from inventive Texas acts: Khruangbin, an indie trio based in Houston, alongside Fort Worth’s neo-soul singer-songwriter, Leon Bridges. Khruangbin is known for their genre-bending style, consistently incorporating soul, psychedelic rock, and funk into their work. The group has been around since 2010, when they released their self-titled EP, showcasing their instrumental-heavy style. Leon Bridges broke into the mainstream with his 2015 hit “Coming Home,” and has remained in the popular eye with various subsequent releases, including his 2018 album Good Thing. Khruangbin’s pairing with Leon Bridges comes as a result of the group joining Bridges on his 2018 tour. The album seems as though it is a match made in heaven as the grammy-nominated Bridges brings a smooth vocal range to all projects, pairing well with Khruangbin’s mellow, rock-inspired instrumentals.
Sonically, the project delivers a heavily Texas-influenced sound; guitar riffs and chords represent a dry desert landscape with a deep southern influence, and lyrics, song titles, and the album title reference the Lone Star State. In many ways, this project reads as a soundtrack to a road trip, taking the listener on various journeys of falling in love. Despite Khurangbin sticking to similar textures and drum fills throughout rather than innovating, the project is able to combine Bridges’ smooth vocals with the band’s instrumentation in a way that positions Bridges as the album’s focal point, while still allowing Khruangbin’s influence to be noticed.
Thematically, the album doesn’t stray far from common tropes of love: falling in love, admiring your love, dancing with your love, traveling with your love, embracing your love and then admiring your love again. Despite the homogeneity of the thematic elements throughout the album, Bridges approaches each song with a child-like innocence, with an interest in and sincerity towards his partner that keeps the project light, sweet, and interesting.
One of Texas Sun’s greatest strengths is Bridges’ song-writing. Tracks such as “Midnight” highlights this, as he reminisces on a romance that he had developed in his adolescence. Bridges is able to accomplish a level of sincerity and genuine love, cultivating an image of him and his love interest sneaking out and riding around at night. Bridges frequently references good and evil, calling on his experience with gospel music and religion.
Texas Sun is a minimalist project that finds beauty in simplicity, but ultimately is held back by its inability to draw outside of the lines. he brief project fulfills the listener’s proverbial scratch, but doesn’t leave too much to be desired.