Brooklyn four-piece Active Bird Community have already toured the US with Cymbals Eat Guitars and We Were Promised Jetpacks and have found a home on Barsuk Records (Death Cab for Cutie, Charly Bliss). Now, they’re releasing their debut album ‘Amends’ and are ready to make a flying impression all over the world.
The title track ‘Amends’ opens the record with The Hotelier-style guitar work and visceral lyrics about a life falling apart (‘The kitchen smells like ash, from a night blowing smoke’; ‘All the times they broke her with their hopes but we’ve got legs to lead her home’) before upping the pace as it drives towards its climax. Following this is ‘Amends’, a song that starts more in thrall to great American songwriters like Tom Petty and Bruce Springsteen before Okkervil River sadness starts to shine through in the tender vocals: ‘No one ever said it would make sense.’; ‘Is it gone? Did you leave it in a song?’
‘Sweaty Lake’s is a more jaunty and upbeat bluesy number with the frantic drumming sure to have you tapping your feet. It has personal lyrics (‘You’re just like me… We’ve both got dogs on our shirts… We’re both in love with what hurts’) and eventually takes a positive turn as the band demand you don’t let a good day become a bad day. On the flipside, ‘Unwind with me’ is a blow-by-blow account of a devastating break-up full of poignancy: ‘You said it once, you said it twice. I don’t need your advice. I’m unravelling everything’.
You can hear the emotional elements of bands like Bright Eyes and Frightened Rabbit throughout the album and ‘Blame’, with its piano-led opening and slow-burning guitars, is the kind of anthem that can’t fail to give you goosebumps: ‘Don’t go trying to find something new until you’ve got your way’ and ‘I know something inside was eating you. I don’t know who to blame’ just two examples of the intimate lyrics. ‘Downstairs’ is more dark and atmospheric with its opening lines asking ‘Do you ever get that dream where all your teeth keep falling out? And you try to stick them back in your bleeding, empty mouth?’ The song takes on a more experimental-cum-slacker tone as the band talk about going downstairs in a dark and empty house while the words ‘And it comes and it goes’ are repeated with military precision.
The closing songs continue in this vein with the Cursive-esque ‘Metrics’ asking ‘Why can’t I sleep without a pill between my teeth?’ and ‘Why can’t I speak without a joke between my teeth?’ and ‘Lighthouse’ being an evocative portrait of a past loved one full of fond memories: ‘She wears a shirt too big, she’s like a little kid’. Despite then going on to say ‘I hope the window’s not locked, because if it is I’m fucked’, the album fittingly ends on a hopeful tone.
Active Bird Community is a band you’ll be twitching to hear more of.