Print, Reviews November 9, 2018

Album Review: Bryce Merritt – CHROMA: III

by Jed Murphy

Bryce Merritt is good. He’s the kind of good that makes other musicians quit because why even try when the Bryce Merritts of the world are out there making it look so easy? To his credit, that’s what he has been doing unintentionally each time he puts out new music. Freshly releasing CHROMA: III (the five-track follow up to 2017’s CHROMA: II) on October 26, Merritt is at it again with some of his best work yet.

Merritt’s understanding of pop music is undeniable, and songs like “Good Taste” and “Cool” show that he has only gotten better at it, especially when compared with some of his earlier albums. Drawing comparisons to Justin Timberlake and the like on his previous work, Merritt has distanced himself from that sound on CHROMA: III with a quality of music that feels much more timeless and less stuck in any particular era of contemporary pop.

The smooth bass lines and crisp guitar licks are complemented by Merritt’s strong leading vocal. From the recording standpoint, pretty much everything is exactly where it should be – to an almost agonizing perfection. Something worth noting is the subtlety of the production, due in no small part to Merritt as a songwriter. While the energy of “Brothers” feels like a misstep, the EP as a whole carries the listener through with no problem.

While at its’ best, CHROMA: III is both sexy and sleek, moments can come off a touch goofy, for lack of a better word, and that goofiness comes from the tendency for Merritt’s unique enthusiasm and the inevitable awkwardness of walking the line between sensuality and remaining accessible. The result could be read as disingenuous on the surface, but at the same time, it shows a musician stepping out of his comfort zone and going for it. At its heart, that’s what CHROMA: III is and frankly what all Bryce Merritt’s previous releases have been as well: pulling out all the stops and going for it.