There’s a lot to be said for living with music for a little while before writing a review. I’ve had this disc in and out of a CD tray for a couple of months now just soaking up the tracks without wanting to miss anything – and there’s certainly a lot here.
First of all, I should come clean and say that I’ve been following this band on the local scene in for the best part of a year. I saw Bird play at The Zanzibar about nine months ago and as the heady mix of vocals, washy guitars and long violin notes bordered on intoxicating, I couldn’t help thinking that if I was in a female fronted band, I’d probably want it to sound just like this. Since then, I’ve had the pleasure of seeing them live twice more at Liverpool venues – at The Masque (may she rest in peace) and at Eric’s, the latter being the official launch night for this, their Opus #1.
There’s a lot of positive things to say about the music on show and Phantoms does not sound like the product of a band that have only been together for around a year. The title track – which has been the grand finale in the band’s set when I’ve seen them live – opens with a repeating guitar motif, insistently hypnotising the ear into submission. A catchy wailing chorus is the real payoff for this track, as Adele Emmas’ vocals soar into the higher part of her range and push the emotion over the edge. This is a band setting out its stall and giving a promising indication of songs yet to come, a strong opener and a definite single, I hope.
The second track Hey Hey Moonshine takes the energy levels right down – it’s brooding guitars, rim-clicks and a breathier vocal for most of the way, building nicely to a chorus that could so easily be over-embellished. Bird hold back, letting the violin break at the end unsettle before giving way to an equally unnerving bass intro to Tides. The guitar picking transported me briefly to the likes of Zero Seven, Massive Attack and Goldfrapp (quite sublime, I really wanted to hear more of this intro!), then after two short verses, a wailing figure that harked back to the style of the chorus in Phantoms. A grower, I’m sure, even if I felt I was snapped out of the mood the intro set up a little too quickly, but still the track ticked along nicely before a cheekily placed Spanish guitar wraps the song up.
Finally – with thunderclaps, nursery rhyme, and rain – The Witch Hunter. The eeriest track on the EP by far, a different vocal sound is blended with picked guitars and a nod towards the first Bat For Lashes album. The final third of the track has violin and cello play against the haunting “Ring a ring a roses” vocal line and as the music builds to hint at a more filmic sound, then unravels, it’s clear that this is a band that have plenty more to offer.
Bird are back in the studio recording a new EP and like the rest of their rapidly expanding fan base, I can’t wait to hear what they come up with. To find out more, visit birdofficial.co.uk
Luke Moore writes for Liverpool Acoustic, is the Liverpool/Cheshire editor for Independent Music News and is a talent scout for Deuce Management & Promotion. Luke is also a composer, arranger, session musician (cello, bass, piano) and works with a variety of signed and unsigned artists in the North West of England.
In addition to writing reviews for liverpoolacoustic.co.uk, Luke Moore is a freelance composer, arranger, session musician (cello/piano/bass guitar/double bass) and songwriter. With a business that aims to be a 'one stop shop' for bands and artists, Luke works with a lot of bands and artists in Liverpool, sharing their passion for original new music.