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BC Camplight Blends ’70s Rock and Dream-Pop on ‘You Should’ve Gone to School’

The alternately storming and floating track is the opener to his 'How to Die in the North' LP

It’s been a pretty turublent near-decade for BC Camplight (a.k.a. Brian Christinzio) since 2007’s Blink of a Nihilist, his second and final album before a long hiatus from recording. “It took me seven years to stop being a bitter, homeless, thieving, entitled mess,” Christinzio tells SPIN by e-mail. “And I fucking hate the music business.” Eventually, the singer/songwriter decamped from his home base in the City of Brotherly Love (“I had poisoned and been poisoned by everyone I knew in Philly”) and moved to Manchester, where he began to pick up the pieces of his musical career, signing to Bella Union (M. Ward, Fleet Foxes).

His first album back is a triumph. How to Die in the North is a kaleidoscopic affair that stands as BC’s most diverse and accomplished work to date, veering from the Beach Boys-flecked pop/rock of his earlier albums to ’70s AM balladry to more left-field psych-pop that finds him in near-Ariel Pink territory, all with veteran songcraft and gorgeously lush production. “I decided I was going to go out swinging and hit everyone with an album that had its own gravitational pull,” Christinzio says of the intent behind How to Die. “I wanted to make one of the most ambitious ‘pop’ records one could possibly conceive.”

The record makes its new scale of ambition known with the first track, “You Should Have Gone to School,” a barnstorming opener that kicks off with huge stadium guitar, placing the song halfway between Kiss and Cheap Trick. (The sentiment of the chorus also pays tribute to Me-Decade classic rock, echoing the mumbled adlibs of Bachman-Turner Overdrive’s “You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet.”). It’s not a complete 180 for BC, though: The verses reign the grandiosity of the hook in with light drums, acoustic guitar and Christinzo’s typically hushed and lovely falsetto vocals, juxtaposed with the off-kilter lyrics: “You’re addicted to the sound / Heard you want to blow your brains out.”

Stream the song below, and be sure to check out How to the Die in the North when it’s released January 20. “The fact that it ended up on such a great label and people are actually going to hear it is something I’m still pinching myself about,” Christinzo says of the LP. “I am insanely grateful for an opportunity that, after my petulant descent, perhaps I didn’t deserve and I intend to make people proud.”