Since the release of his album, Patient Zero (2020), which coincided with a long stint in the hospital and through his last album Cyclist (2021), Phillips has been writing his way through a physical and emotional recovery. With “Chin Up, Eyes Wide Open,” Phillips recalls, “I felt safe in my own skin for the first time in a really long time.
This is part of trauma recovery – early on there is this identity crisis that starts in your bone marrow and extends outward into the far reaches of the galaxy and it takes a lot of effort to find yourself again in all that messy tissue and ice cold vastness. By some quirk of luck, I bumped into myself when a friend made a joke about my being exactly her ‘tall, thin and emotionally unavailable’ type.
To which I shot back, ‘Babe, all I am is emotionally available. I am skin and emotions.’ Boom. There I was, hiding in plain sight. So ‘Chin Up, Eyes Wide Open’ is a song about my deciding to live that punch line and to just fully embody ‘skin and emotions’ and to never mask that version of myself again. It’s a song about showing up for yourself in all your flawed, fucked up glory.”
“Chin Up, Eyes Wide Open” is the third single in a larger work coming soon with the songs “Light” and “Riot of the Rebel Angels” already released. For all of his new music, Phillips (also a member of The Gadjits, The Architects, and Other Americans) teamed up with musician Barb Morrison (Antony and The Johnsons, Blondie, Deborah Harry) as his music mentor, working together to lay bare the passionate catharsis of his new writing direction.
The first song they wrote together, “Light,” set the tone for where Brandon wanted to go with his new music and how he and Barb would work together. That tone embodies pulsing club kicks and throbbing waves of synthesizers, slamming headlong into jagged post-punk guitars and emotionally raw vocals about a desire so powerful that simply admitting its existence would set fire to heaven and earth.