Release date: 24 August 2018
Elvis Costello has confessed that he went through a period in the '80s when he deliberately invited chaos into his personal life because he wasn't sure he could create without it. Brian Christinzio hasn't had to resort to such measures, because fate has done it for him. Christinzio, the creative mind behind the indie pop outfit BC Camplight, has made no secret of his struggles with addiction and clinical depression, and his life became especially discordant after the release of his 2015 album, How to Die in the North. Christinzio made that album after he relocated from Philadelphia to Manchester, England, where he found a new lease on life and plenty of inspiration, but soon after the record came out, an expired visa led to him being deported, separating him from his new girlfriend, his new band, and even his pets. This personal and professional tumult clearly informed BC Camplight's 2018 effort, Deportation Blues, a dark and fractious collection of upended pop tunes that wear their frayed emotions on their sleeves. The title tune gives away the game that this is a deeply personal work, with Christinzio confronting the anger, bitterness, and isolation that had dominated his life and putting it center stage in these songs. Even without the lyrics, this album would clearly be the work of a troubled time, as the clouds of noisy keyboards, sharp electronic percussion, and melodic left turns twist Christinzio's often lovely vocals and "Todd Rundgren meets the Eels" melodic constructs into an emotional no man's land. However, if this album is a long way from happy, it's also a very impressive piece of work, and if "I'm in a Weird Place Now" and "I'm Desperate" are as bleak as their titles suggest, on "Midnight Ease," "When I Think of My Dog," and "Until You Kiss Me" Christinzio finds a very real beauty in his melancholy, discovering a gentle core beneath the wreckage of his life. With Deportation Blues, Brian Christinzio has created his own Big Star 3rd, less druggy but just as much a musical voyage through one man's psyche that travels through darkness while searching for some gleam of healing light. Let's hope he finds it before he makes his next album.
- Mark Deming, Allmusic