Bird Names Sings The Browns

[Upset the Rhythm; 2009]

Styles: experimental pop
Others: Os Mutantes, Deerhoof

Sings The Browns is one of those albums you'd expect to get lost underneath the hyper-creativity and hyper-eccentricities of its makers. Much of Bird Names’ previous output suffers from this problem, namely by not successfully harnessing the myriad of sound-aspects whirring through the band members’ minds and cannibalizing each other on the recordings. To the listener, this problem presents itself as frustration; the restlessness of the music translates into annoyance. With this new album, though, the band has found a way to manage the creative frenzy and construct a totality from disparate sound sources without sacrificing a single drop of energy and insanity. The consequence, for the listener who finds this foundation within the madness, is joy.

Sings The Browns is a motherfucker of a percussive album. Not in the Neil Peart sense, but in the sense known by any home-recorder who has acquired a healthy collection of egg shakers, banged on toilet bowls with forks, and carried home an old, mangled bass drum from a yard sale. From the first second of “Nature’s Over” to the end of the album, the beat drives the whole, constantly switching directions to match the idiosyncrasies of the many complicated transitions. The close listener will find herself unable to resist the pleasure when the extra shaker kicks in around the one-minute mark of “Defined Stijls.” On “Live Longer Than We Want To,” the percussion goes off on a high-speed Morricone-fueled rant while perfectly accompanying an "Eastern" guitar line. Guitars play a prominent role on the album, from the pleasantly sloppy riffs and lead phrases that dance around each other on “Defined Stijls” to what sounds almost like a bloody guitar-as-knife-fight on “Scandanavia.” There must be at least four guitars on “People Should Get More Aware,” battling it out in a cracked-up, Thin Lizzy style. The opening guitar line on “Days Elevated” is one of the nastiest riffs to blast out from a garage in years.

There are rich melodies patiently lurking within all this chaos. A lovely phrase eventually climbs out from the noise on “Natural Weeds,” transforming it into a playful and psyched-out organ waltz. “Oh, Narcotopic Fantasy” floats the listener up, just like it promises, on some sort of horn-cloud above the disorder for a moment of spiritual-dope-bliss. The melody on “I Had A Girl” breezes alongside the horns and flute, and the latter makes a magical appearance on the closing track, momentarily turning it into an AM-funk gem. At times, the vocals are indecipherable, usually drenched in thin, non-shitty-fuzz, and always amped up and harmonically captivating, playing nicely with the shifting structures of the songs. Somehow it all manages to come together to form one of the most well-crafted, unique, and far-out pop albums in recent years. It may require a bit of patience and curiosity at first, but the brave ear will be well rewarded by the creative assault that Bird Names so confidently deliver.

1. Nature’s Over
2. Live Longer Than We Want To
3. Defined Stijls
4. Scandanavia
5. Natural Weeds
6. Oh, Narcotopic Fantasy
7. I Had A Girl
8. Days Elevated
9. People Should Get More Aware
10. Production
11. She Works In A Store
12. Garbage Barge
13. Taxicabs And Bicycles

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