Bobby Birdman Born Free Forever

[Hush; 2003]

Rating: 5/5

Styles: indie rock, electronic
Others: [[[VVRSSNN]]], Figurine, Little Wings, (smog), Mount Eerie

How would you like to hear something with the sonic textures of The Microphones, the vocals of (Smog) and Blur, and topped off with the pop sensibility of David Bowie? Sounds pretty good, doesn't it? Well, your brooding pal from the Pacific Northwest, Bobby Birdman, provides you with just that in Born Free Forever. And it adds up to one of the best albums of 2003. It comes out of the gate with “Born Free,” which starts sounding almost exactly like (Smog)’s “Ex-Con,” but quickly turns into some sort of Damon Albarn hymnal over somber piano. But by the next song he brings in the density of The Microphones, but sweeter and more polished. The butterfly-wings-delicate sound of the Microphones continues throughout the album, with the corresponding foreboding gloom. An especially pretty song is “Here I Am, All Broken Hearted,” which features a gently played glockenspiel and an ethereal chorus, which stands in stark contrast to the ominous songs that surround it. “Demon Heart” features fluttering synths, “Fire” has exultant vocals over strummed acoustic guitar, “I Said, ‘OK,’ The Wind Said, ‘No!’” drones melodiously, and on “I Hope/I Grow” organs march solemnly to a metallic hammering. Beneath the desolate surface of these songs lay tender, yearning lyrics, and you have to dig deep to get there. All the layers in these songs make for a challenging listen, but once you experience all of them, you are rewarded with a masterpiece.

1. Born Free
2. So the Blood
3. All Right
4. The Fear
5. All Right (Reprise)
6. Demon Heart
7. Fire
8. Here I Am, All Brokenhearted
9. I Said, "Ok", The Wind Said, "No!"
10. I Hope/I Grow
11. The Flood/The Blood
12. I Have But to Know What I Want
13. The Something Inside
14. O Come On