Dark Bird - Lay Low

12 songs
50:44 minutes
***** ***
Ur Audio-Visual


I am usually not a big fan of indie folk music, but once in a while I stumble across an artist that manages to grab my attention. Dark Bird, one of those few exceptions, is the project of Roan Bateman, a wild looking bearded man. His first recordings from the late Nineties to the early Zeros have been collected on two compilations, and since then he released already five records, Lay Low being his most recent longplayer. One might argue why music is still being put on cassette tape these days. I guess itís just to have something strangely antique in your collection, and in the end you can listen to the digital downloads.

But letís get to the music. The twelve songs on Lay Low mostly consist mostly of acoustic guitar, a surprisingly melodic played bass guitar, programmed beats, weird synth sound and of course Roan Batemanís lush, melodic vocals. Although this is already a good starting point, what really makes this album a winner is the fact that the songs are eerily haunting with memorable melodies. This is especially the case on the tapeís A-side, or on the first six tracks, depending on how you listen to the album. The opener and title track is a mellow ballad with strange distorted sounds accompanying the chorus. I Love You comes with weird tweeting synth sounds that make this piece sound like a love song coming straight from a different mental state. My favourite track is Fireflies, an autumnal ballad with a goosebumps inducing chord sequence that the late Syd Barrett couldnít have come up with better.

Not all songs have such hit potential, but in the end itís the use of unusual synth sounds that elevates this album to something quite superior to the more generic sounding indie folk bands. Dark Bird doesnít shy away from the more experimental sides of music, and even manages to combine his strange side with concise songwriting. In the end, Lay Low may be a little too long... two or three songs less would have made it a more digestible affair. But apart from that, this is an unexpected delight that should appeal to open-minded indie folk fans all over the world.

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