Coming in hot from New York City is pop-rock/pop-punk collective Brea Fournier & the Dream Ballet with their conceptual debut album, Manic Pixie Dream Girl!
Comprised of Brea Fournier, guitarist Ben Shanblatt, drummer Sophia Bondi, and bassist Noah Rosner, Brea Fournier & the Dream Ballet are best known for their sound, often described as "Joan Jett attitude meets Joni Mitchell lyricism." And that's exactly what we get in their big debut album, Manic Pixie Dream Girl!
Recorded with producer Barb Morrison (Franz Ferdinand/Blondie), this new rock opera album is rooted in internal power, chanting lyrics reminiscent of past rock operas like American Idiot and Ziggy Stardust. But this time, Brea Fournier & the Dream Ballet zoom in on unapologetic femininity, showing the audience that Brea is not a shallow archetype for the male gaze but a protagonist of the story she chooses to write.
Manic Pixie Dream Girl! opens with the intro track, "Avant-Garde & Totally Unique," featuring Brea Fournier's velvety vocals that calmly yet powerfully express the annoyance felt when others attempt to 'steer her in the right direction.' With a wicked bassline and bright instrumentals that gradually expand, this intro track kicks the album into gear on a note of confidence, certain that she'll discover who she will become and that she requires no one's unsolicited advice.
With a seamless transition into track two, "(That Guy You're Talking To)," thanks to Rosner's wicked bass licks, Brea Fournier then goes off into an animated, spirited monologue, a spoken word, if you will. However you see it, it's powerful. She makes one thing clear: she's not here to fulfill your narrative, and she most certainly doesn't live to be your "Manic Pixie Dream Girl," a term in the film industry used to describe stories of boring, monotonous men in search of a free-spirited woman to make it all better. If that's what you're looking for, you won't find it here.
Turning up the heat for track number three, "The Masochist," Brea Fournier & the Dream Ballet blast off into this powerful and exciting pop-punk atmosphere reminiscent of Paramore, if it was an 80s band. Brea Fournier's chant-worthy lyrics paired with the band's riveting instrumentals make this story impactful, engaging, and downright danceable. It's a mighty pick-me-up that leads us deeper into this conceptual, feminism-forward album.
Strolling down to "Eighth Street" in track number four, Brea Fournier & the Dream Ballet bless our speakers with an easy breezy alternative-rock vibe alongside Brea Fournier's sweet pop-infused vocal melodies. While expressing the story of past lovers who often bump into each other around the neighborhood, Brea dives into her inner emotions, unsure how to feel about ignoring someone she once knew so intimately. But, alas, she walks on by, embracing the power she holds within.
Track number five, "(Karma's a Bitch/an Open Letter)," brings us the album's first 30-second interlude. It's a sharp yet sweet reminder that karma is indeed a bitch, and we mustn't go searching for revenge unless the universe guides us there. It ends with an introduction to the next song, which is a letter to Manic Pixie Dream Girl's high school sweetheart, who just so happened to hate country music...
And guess what comes flooding through the speakers on track six? A sweet, upbeat country tune dubbed "Not my Soulmate," opening with Brea Fournier & the Dream Ballet's twangy, toe-tapping country instrumentals and Brea's stunning, radiant vocals that sing a message of meaning: just because you 'hit it off' with someone doesn't mean you were lovers in a past life. And it sure as hell doesn't mean they're soulmates. It's a lively country tune that rounds out the album to perfection.
Brea Fournier & the Dream Ballet leave our speakers smoking on track seven, "Petty Stuff," kicking off with a scorching punk-inspired instrumental that leads into Brea Fournier's spirited vocals, reminiscent of Olivia Rodrigo's infectious attitude and grit. There are layers of humor infused into this banger, and it's something we all need to hear: just because we sweat the petty stuff doesn't mean we're undeserving of love. That's just how we are. Tough luck; learn to live with it.
Landing on the album's title track on spot number eight, "Manic Pixie Dream Girl," Brea Fournier & the Dream Ballet blesses us with their classic pop-punk sound while Brea serenades the speakers with gentle vocals yet meaningful lyrics. She promises to herself that she'll never be the girl to 'settle down unassumingly,' ensuring she'll never become the girl next door without a name. It's an empowering song that assures women everywhere that you're not just someone's "Manic Pixie Dream Girl." You are whatever you choose to be.
Keeping the lively pop-punk feel alive is the album's ninth track, "Dowry," pumping through the speakers without a dull moment. Thus far, we are wildly impressed by Brea Fournier's ability to capture the listener's attention with witty, meaningful lyrics and in-depth, relatable stories. And "Dowry" is no exception. It's a powerful, quite hilarious testament that we women live to marry, have kids, and throw our lives away if it means building a family. That narrative is outdated, and we thank Brea Fournier & the Dream Ballet for spreading the word.
Reaching the album's second interlude with track number ten, "(the Days and Weeks and Months and Years)," Brea Fournier dives into a personal story. She expresses how the days, weeks, months, and years are blending together, and during that time, she's realized that there's only one person who will stick with her until the end. "She's chock-full of unaddressed trauma, or so her therapist says," explains Brea, emphasizing that all we have is ourselves.
With another seamless transition into the next track, "Reality TV," Brea Fournier & the Dream Ballet bless the speakers with an easy-listening pop-rock experience. This time around, Brea Fournier dives into a different, slightly humorous concept. When it comes to "Reality TV," all we want to do is watch our show in peace, alone, and know who's going home this week. There could very well be a deeper meaning behind this track, but at the moment, we're just ready to see who's going home on next week's episode.
Here's a topic I know all too well. Jumping into track twelve, "SSRI," Brea Fournier & the Dream Ballet turn up the psychedelic Tame Impala vibes while capturing the listener's undivided attention from the get-go. This track explores a deeper subject, one that touches on mental health, battles with anxiety, and the experience of going off medication. In the simplest words possible, it's not easy, but Brea Fournier & the Dream Ballet express the experience perfectly: the tears, fantasies, confusion, and wondering if this is what true freedom feels like.
On track thirteen, we're met with another interlude, but this time, it's even more personal. "(I'm Afraid of Stillness)" features Brea Fournier's spoken voice, diving into themes of distress from the past and fright for the future. But it's in these moments of spiraling into disarray that she realizes she's afraid of stillness. And perhaps afraid of peace too.
Jumping into another groovy instrumental on track fourteen, "Nine Of Swords," Brea Fournier & the Dream Ballet brings us into a spirited but introspective pop-rock track. While Brea draws the nine of swords from her tarot deck, she realizes that she's getting exactly what she asked for. All those internal battles, screaming demons, and anxieties for the future will only materialize themselves if we let them - if we give them room to breed and grow. It's a powerful reminder that we are our thoughts.
It doesn't get much better than the sweet-sounding introduction on track fifteen, "Dream Ballet," opening with feel-good alt-pop instrumentals that keep the vibes high. Brea Fournier's tender vocals later express that if she achieved her wildest goals, somehow learned to fly, and was soaring above the world, she'd never leave that fever dream...ballet. But, alas, she's drowning her sorrows in Grey Goose and Bourbon, hoping that one day, just one day, she'll fly higher than the rest.
The album's final interlude takes place on track sixteen, "(Mosaic)," where Brea Fournier's spoken voice expresses that she is indeed a mosaic, fragments of thousands of perceptions from herself and others. But, along the way, she's certain that the world as we know it will cease to exist, leaving behind empty pill bottles, scattered tarot decks, tutus, and tiaras. Yet, if we promise ourselves to never sacrifice our happiness for someone else, we might just come out unscathed.
Landing on the album's seventeenth and final track, "Guts," we're met with the last seamless transition from interlude to song, blessing the speakers with an upbeat acoustic guitar and Brea Fournier's witty, meaningful lyrics. And we agree with her; it takes guts to treat someone like trash and apologize, but we all know that apologies take place when the other party is sad, lonely, and needs a little...womanly touch. Closing with a chilling acapella, this outro track perfectly puts a bow on such a comprehensive, impactful album.
We are delighted to have experienced such a detailed, meaningful, and powerful record that perfectly depicts the modern woman's experience, or at least from Brea Fournier's point of view. But we're grateful that we did. Experience it yourself and find Brea Fournier & the Dream Ballet's debut album, Manic Pixie Dream Girl!, on all digital streaming platforms.