Review: Bird Names – Metabolism: A Salute to the Energy of the Sun

Saturday, April 28, 2012

After a brief break away from my review station, I am back with plans to branch out and review more than merely music (certainly more than music from Northern Spy Records). With that said, here is a first review… of a music release from Northern Spy Records.

Living up to their reputation as being one of the most diverse record labels out there, this 2011 offering is an avant-pop charm which sees Bird Names (David Lineal and Phelan LaVelle) honing a DIY aesthetic into something roughshod yet delectable. Every moment is packed with ideas, but whilst two isolated areas of even a single track could on occasion seem almost irreconcilable, each idea flows so naturally into to the next there are no disjoints, showing this to be a true labour of love. This is a 41-minute guided tour on a dreamlike odyssey; during Dust You Came I felt the closest I have felt whilst listening to music as if I were indeed floating by those tangerine trees and marmalade skies of The Beatles’ Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds since that very track. That is not to dismiss this as or to even imply that it bears any relationship to mere muzak, as that could not be much farther from the truth. When I say it is “dreamlike” I do not mean in that sense that is so often used to describe that sort of ambient pop that you find on chillout compilations. This is a dreamscape of the sort you might find on canvas in Dalî’s work, a bubble in which one can pass safely through a sometimes troubling, but always intriguing, environment.

Overall, this is an unapologetic burst of joy, embracing and incorporating its flaws to great effect, demonstrating that sometimes music, too, can be dirty and fun.

They have been busy and prolific for it. Metabolism was Bird Names’ fifth full-length album since 2004, with another six shorter-form recordings appearing here and there for good measure. A fairly broad collection of their work can be sampled at the Free Music Archive, should you wish to hear more than the handful of offerings below.

Phantoms & Fortunes on Soundcloud

Purchase: Northern Spy Records

Official website