On his fifth solo album, Jonathan Bree has synthesized his concept into refined and focused pop songs that bring a sense of immediate nostalgia one might get when listening to a John Hughes movie soundtrack or the classic pop of a bygone era.
The celestial opening notes of Pre-Code Hollywood transport listeners to a complex sonic world that celebrates classic pop of a bygone era, while experimenting with the avant-garde in a way that is distinctly modern. A producer and musician best known for his cinematic brand of orchestral pop, Bree’s deep baritone and musical arrangements, which often feature sliding strings and chamber instruments such as the celeste, harp, and timpani, draw inspiration from classic artists like Lee Hazlewood and Serge Gainsbourg, but are reborn as something entirely his own. A dark disco album full of sad bangers, Pre-Code Hollywood synthesizes Bree’s years of experience and craftsmanship into a refined, focused, and bold collection. It’s his most pop-forward and exciting work to date.
While working on the album’s demos, Bree noticed a certain 1980s aesthetic about them and sent a brave email to Chic main man and producer of David Bowie’s Let’s Dance album, Nile Rodgers. The two ended up collaborating on the album’s title track, as well as the standout single “Miss You,” with Rodgers producing and performing guitar on both tracks. Rodgers’ touch elevates the recordings to ambitious, scorching dance floor heaters. “Miss You,” an aching yet groovy duet with longtime collaborator Princess Chelsea, also serves as the thematic core of the album: a tale of longing, separation, and the road back to connection.