Keeping Score: My Brilliant Career

BY KATHERINE ANDREWS//

This is Keeping Score. Every other week, I recommend a movie and an album, sort of like an unofficial score. 

I am a sucker for period dramas — Pride and Prejudice (2005), Outlander (2014), Cable Girls (2017), Emma (2020), you name it. They balance style, romance, and just being gorgeous in a way that you can’t find everywhere. My Brilliant Career (1979) adds some feminist zest to the genre without skimping on the aesthetic. There’s plenty of lace, floral prints, garden chase scenes, and yearning to go around.

My Brilliant Career follows Sybylla Melvyn as she is forced to leave her family in the Outback in Australia to live with her wealthy grandmother when money was tight at home. Sybylla is headstrong, awkward, and dreams of becoming a writer. While living with her grandmother, she clumsily navigates upper class sensibilities and expectations. Above all else, Sybylla wants to carve a life out for herself as a writer. 

You might be asking when the romance part comes around–it does, it does. Harry Beecham, a handsome and wealthy landowner, eventually makes Sybylla’s acquaintance and is amused by her crassness and will. The pair amuses each other. They ride in carriages! They row boats together and playfully fall in the water! It’s a delight. Ah well, I’m not going to ruin the ending.

Usually the music in period dramas is pretty bleh, with some obvious exceptions (erhem Sophia Coppala’s Marie Antoinette). My Brilliant Career is pretty run of the mill mix of piano and emotions. Given that the movie is fun, the music should be too. 

Melody’s Echo Chamber’s self titled 2012 record gets at mixing softer aesthetics into something fun. Melody Prochet’s (the genius behind Melody’s Echo Chamber) first record is a warm and fuzzy blend of psychedelic and dream pop in the best way possible. The layering and blown out mix of guitar, synth, and bass may sound familiar. Kevin Parker of Tame Impala produced it. This isn’t a Tame Impala record though (no offense). Melody’s Echo Chamber is stylish in an evergreen way. 

The record’s opening song “I Follow You” is a mellow introduction to what is to come. Melody Prochet’s vocals are dream pop heaven, but everything else is tangy and so very very good. Melody’s Echo Chamber’s third song “You Won’t Be Missing That Part of Me” is my favorite, moody, synthy, and everything I could ever ask for. In a very Sybylla vein, the song flips the breakup song script. “Quand Vas Tu Rentrer” (obviously sung in Prochet’s native French) is almost electronic, distorting lyrics and rhythms into something that pushes the style of the album 7 songs in just enough. 

Both Melody’s Echo Chamber and My Brilliant Career take the best of what’s at their disposal and spin them into something lovely and new. Watch, listen, and enjoy!

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