Midway through “Eye Contact” from their latest album “Slant,” lead singer Brooks Hudgins of Private Browsing delivers a brazen lyric that encapsulates the artist’s unyielding perspective of the music industry: “seven shits a day and they’re still full of it.” From the frontman's scathing lyrics to the band’s rigid refusal to confine themselves to a singular genre, Private Browsing has established itself as a defiant force within the New York music scene. Following our initial meeting with Brooks back in June for the Red Pavilion show hosted by The Kollection, of which Brooks was a featuring artist, we caught up with him to delve deeper into his new album.
Three years after the release of their debut, the band has launched Slant, its fourth album. It was made available on streaming platforms on Friday, September 8th, with a “Live Album Rock Opera Release Party” planned for Saturday the 9th at TV Eye in Ridgewood. Slant is Brooks’ most personal album yet. In contrast to previous projects, Brooks produced this album with full creative freedom, illustrating striking themes personal to the musician and defining the sound. That sound encompasses all that Private Browsing has become thus far, featuring 12 tracks loosely divided into three separate acts.
Like most of the band’s other works, the album is derived from various genres. The first third features an electronic vibe, the middle third leans toward rock, reminiscent of the shredding sounds of Weezer and Silver Jews, and then ends with an indie dance style akin to LCD Soundsystem. While Private Browsing’s most popular songs are catchy 130 bpm tunes with witty lyrics, Brooks has also incorporated slower, moodier tracks to the new album. One of these songs, titled “Nobody Likes the Sad Ones,” is a direct, sarcastic reaction to the criticism Brooks has faced from deviating from the popular hits.
The band’s sound has had a number of shifts in sound over the course of its existence, as it has switched from southern rock to electronic, melancholic, and more. This meandering musical journey can only be mapped by delving into the inner workings of Brooks’ mind. Although this type of music making is unconventional, Brooks sees it as a manifestation of creative liberty in full bloom.
“The consistent brand that I have is of inconsistency.”
The album’s assorted sounds are united by a piercing philosophy that seeks to lay bare the corrupt music industry model, one which prioritizes profits for the elite. While doubling as a breakup album, as the musician wrote most of the songs in the wake of a breakup, Slant is also the product of Brooks’ anger at the corruption within the entertainment industry. In “Eye Contact,” Brooks releases an indictment of the industry, revealing that the majority of successful musicians today owe their achievements to financial advantages. Despite sitting on stockpiles of cash, many pretend to have climbed from the bottom. In a gritty and scornful tone, he exclaims, “built a trust fund from a bread crumb or a trust fund, can’t remember which one.”
Brooks suggests that experiencing Slant live is more meaningful than streaming it. The Saturday TV Eye concert resembles a Broadway production. It’s a three-act play spanning millennia of history, starting in the Monty Python-esque Middle Ages, transitioning to the American Wild West, and blasting into the future for the final act. While a fresh and intriguing concept is sure to attract enthusiastic fans, the concert’s narrative also serves as a symbol of the music industry’s corruption.
“I'm attempting to make a metaphor for the music industry as a whole. A lot of the songs are about that, and of having the big bad wolf across time, and how some things just never change.”
Slant and the band’s performance are products of the keen ear and eye of the lead singer’s myriad influences and an urbane philosophy which resonates with many new artists, both within and beyond the music industry. Though the album doesn’t adhere to generic production conventions, there is something for everyone in it. From electronic to rock to indie dance, the album offers a microcosm of Private Browsing’s discography. And with a live concert whose spectacle matches the whimsical and broad-spanning nature of the album, Slant is a product of the band’s pure love for music, something that is sure to attract others of the same sentiment.
Private Browsing's newest album is out now, available to listen on all streaming platforms.
Their "Live Album Rock Opera Release Party" is also happening TONIGHT, Saturday September 9th, at TV Eye in Ridgewood. One show only, and DJ sets to follow after curtains. Doors open at 7 PM so don't miss it. Buy your tickets here.
Listen to their new album here | Check out their top tracks on Spotify here: