ALBUM: Bishop Briggs – ‘Champion’

“I hope you like it. And if you don’t, please don’t tell me. I’m far too sensitive to hear that” jests Bishop Briggs about her single ‘Jekyl & Hide’, lifted from her sophomore album Champion. Whilst she’s speaking about a specific track, her sentiment is one that can easily be applied to her new record, which explores her strength and vulnerability as an artist, and as a woman, across ten vibrant tracks.

Her 2018 debut album, Church of Scars, was featured in the Top 10 on the Billboard Album Chart in the same year. Following up that success can be tricky, but Briggs has kept things simple on Champion, focusing on emotive lyrics and catchy beats to get her message of self-empowerment across.

The brief, confessional ‘I Still Love You’ acknowledges the fight between the heart and the head. Briggs’ struggle to let it go is explored through gentle piano sounds and slow atmospheric percussion. ‘Can You Hear Me Now?’ follows, with its buoyant beats and Briggs’ defiant vocals breaking through in the chorus. Briggs sets a solitary scene in the opening verse to eponymous track ‘Champion’ – “alone in my car / I’m in a parking lot” – but she offsets this with an empowering chorus of extended vocals and foot-stomping beats.

Disappointment and heartache permeate ‘Tattooed On My Heart’, as Briggs laments about a relationship full of fake promises and lacking in closure. It’s a relatable listen filled with more of her clear vocals, supported by a backing choir which makes the song an unexpectedly uplifting listen. The melancholy ‘Someone Else’ follows, with Briggs expressing a desire for space and solitude over tentative piano.

Co-written with K. Flay and produced by Joel Little, ‘Jekyll & Hide’ (incorrectly spelled for a reason) coins a new dating phrase – “Are you Jekyll & Hide-ing me?” – as a way to describe the chaotic feeling of dating someone who appears to be two-faced. It’s followed by the revealing ‘Lonely’, which flows in the same vulnerable vein as previous track ‘Someone Else’.

On ‘Wild’ Briggs finds solace in running full pelt in to the unknown, her voice races across layers of sharp beats and powerful backing vocals. The funky ‘My Shine’ spotlight’s Briggs’ breakthrough in the aftermath of a relationship that dimmed her light and dulled her confidence. ‘I Tried’ closes the record, a demo that documents the exhaustion and the relief of leaving behind someone who drained you of your energy and efforts.

Acknowledging the many ways in which a woman can be strong, even when tangled up in a bad romantic relationship seems to be Briggs forte. At times times repetitive, but always relatable; Champion is an uplifting record fueled by the desire to overcome the forces that hold us down.

Listen to Champion on Spotify below. Follow Bishop Briggs on Facebook for more updates.

Kate Crudgington