Friday, May 23, 2014
Album Review :: BIRD - My Fear And Me
My Fear and Me
May 26 2014 (Baltic Records)
Words: Dave Beech
As the brooding first notes of opening track 'Ghost' begin to wash over you, it's immediately obvious what kind of album this is going to be: Dark, ominous, poetic, beautiful, the sombre imagery a stark contrast to much of the other bands on offer at the moment. Think London Grammar by way of Savages and with little in the way of either band's often overt intensity, and you'll be fairly close to Merseyside's BIRD.
What just one listen doesn't give you, however, is the wealth of subtle nuances, the more macabre gothic imagery and compositional complexity of some the more ambitious tracks. Perhaps the most interesting thing about 'My Fear and Me', however, is the insidious folk element which only begins to surface once any initial impressions have sunk. The aforementioned 'Ghost', for instance brings to mind a Celtic, almost tribal, influence, something which goes hand in hand with the ever-present references to nature throughout.
Whilst not being familiar with the band before now, it seems that with their debut they have well and truly embraced their darker side. The haunting texture of Adele Emmas' vocals, not only compliments the cloying instrumentation it's draped atop of, but also the images and emotions she's crafting lyrically. Death and darkness, forests and ravens, it might not be the most upbeat imagery, but it's natural, and one can't help but think that Emmas has found a poetic beauty in the nature of death and the cyclical way in which the world works. As such there's an overarching maturity in the composition of 'My Fear...' one which has helped push it far beyond the fingertips of any of the band's contemporaries and making it one of the best records of 2014 already.
Tracks such as the previously released 'I Am The Mountain' and 'Rain Song' provide a cinematic quality to the record making it easy to imagine the gothic cinema that these songs could so easily soundtrack. Indeed, the record itself seems not to be made up of singular songs, so much as ever-evolving soundscapes that morph sometimes within the same track whilst taking listeners to dark, yet paradoxically beautiful, places. 'Rain Song', for example, a song that starts with a picked guitar and subtle wind-like noises before being joined by Emmas' velvet vocals; the respite brought about by the vocal track is soon overshadowed by rising wind sounds again, allowing for a tug-of-war between the vocal and effects to form, each vying for attention, before melding together in a harmonious cacophony. Similarly, second track 'A War' starts with a sparse 'intro' of haunting chimes, synth and drums, before being joined again by an understated bass and an impassioned vocal. A darker track than 'Rain Song', but one equally as haunting and just as arresting.
If last year's success of London Grammar was anything to go by, one can't help but think that the same could be said of BIRD. That doesn't mean to say they're to be tarred with the same brush. BIRD take the torch passed to them and run further, building on the ambitions and anthemics, crafting something far darker and far more subtle than 'If You Wait' ever was. I expect that we will be seeing and hearing a lot more from BIRD in the coming months as they gravitate upwards and onto a bigger worldly stage.