6 January 2009
Birdie - Triple Echo
Year of Release: 2001
The last time I tried to do an entry on Birdie, Blogger decided to "eat" it for reasons best known to itself, and in a fit of frustration I ended up summarising the band with a brief paragraph. This was an unjust result which probably left the average reader with the impression I didn't give that much of a shit, really. Sorry if you walked away feeling no urge to click on the YouTube clip I provided - you should go back and look at it again. Now.
Birdie emerged at a time when the alternative end of the British music scene was in a rather confused and varied state, and as such was perhaps more interesting than we gave it credit for at the time. Whilst Post Rock was in full flow, Skunk Rock was trying to get off the ground, numerous techno acts threatened to be 'the future of music as we know it' and more dreary epic guitar-driven Wonderwall inspired ballads were strung together by half-wits than we sensibly needed, Birdie were frequently lazily slotted into another bracket altogether, that of the twee revival. One listen to this album should tell you that they had very little place there - this isn't the sound of some idle Belle and Sebastian copyists or a few kids with cheap jangly guitars, it's the noise of the best moments in sixties girl pop and summer cafe juke boxes combined. Lead singer Debsey Wykes has a voice which is so slick, smooth and honeyed that, whatever your feelings on the music itself, it's hard not to be awed. Had the numerous one-hit wonders of the era who peddled out music made for summer "chill out" compilation CDs gone more analogue and expanded the scope in their songwriting, this is what it would have sounded like.
Critics may well argue that the band were clearly inspired by both Stereolab and Saint Etienne, but neither are terrible places for any act to start. More than either of those two bands, however, they managed to create their songs with a conciseness that makes each track a warm, intoxicating hit. None of them outstay their welcome, and the fondness grows with repeated listens. "Such A Sound" in particular is a textbook example of effective atmospheric dream pop.
Despite (or perhaps because of) all this, of course, they didn't really go the distance, although Debsy still regularly produces material with Saint Etienne (with whom she co-starred on the hit "Who Do You Think You Are?"). At the last check, Birdie were on an extended break, and it seems unlikely it will be broken.
Oh, and the first person to say "Dave, you really should have uploaded this one during the summer months" gets a nasty boot up the rear. Just think of our poor Australian readers (of whom we have next-to-none). Just put this CD on, sit on top of the three-bar fire, and try to imagine it's July again.
1. The Original Strand
2. Such A Sound
3. Rosie's Drugstore
6. Blue Eyed Son
7. Silver Line
8. Twin I Love You
11. Blue Eyed Son (Reprise)
sixties seventies eighties novelty nineties second hand record dip psychedelia The Beatles one hit wonders glam rock KLF comedy easy listening library music garage noughties reggae Bill Drummond compilations disco eurovision romo/ new romantic Microdisney earl brutus mark wirtz animals that swim cover versions Morgan Studios Wales bob morgan creation embassy the spectrum Bam Caruso C86 KPM blessed ethel dora hall elton john Inaura Joe Meek Medicine Head john pantry peter cook Birdie Lieutenant Pigeon Peel Sessions Salad The Critters The Tages czech rock skunk rock the lover speaks British Gas Walham Green East Wapping Steam Beating Carpet Cleaning Rodent and Boggit Exterminating Association one of these days I'm going to cut you into little pieces pete the plate spinning dog