The Bridges

Limits of the Sky

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Had the girls in Eisley grown up listening to Fleetwood Mac and the Bangles instead of Belly and Radiohead, the result might have been similar to the Bridges' sturdy debut. Like Eisley, the Bridges make the most of their family connections, decorating their melodies with the sort of close, bleeding harmonies that sound so natural when sung by siblings -- or, in this case, by siblings and one first cousin. But while Eisley's Room Noises bounced between whimsical love songs and dark alterna-rock, Limits of the Sky is pure poppy sheen, with bright hooks and major-key progressions pushing them closer to the sunny songcraft of Rooney. Lead singer Brittany Painter boasts a mature set of pipes, complete with slight vibrato and sexily rasped high notes, and the band's remaining vocalists (Natalie, Stacey, and Isaaca Byrd) pile their harmonies into thick stacks of sound. The sisters flank Painter's voice, cooing in unison and mirroring the way she stretches her vowels during lengthy notes. There's a boy involved, too -- brother Jeremy, who flits between guitar and drums -- but this is still the girls' show, a fact that Jeremy likely knows all too well. Like most family bands dominated by young, photogenic females, the Bridges have an uphill battle ahead of them, since it's difficult to convince audiences that such groups are anything more than surefire talent show winners or dynamic family-reunion entertainment. Even so, the young bandmates have the chops to break that perception, from the way they pair a banjo riff with a 1960s girl group-styled chorus ("One Way") to the saucy, confident strut of "All the Words" and "One I Love." Toss in the approval of power pop veteran Matthew Sweet (who produced, engineered, and housed the band during the recording sessions), and Limits of the Sky ultimately emerges as nothing short of a solid, engaging first effort.

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