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Album Reviews

EP Review: Poisonous Birds – We Can Never Not Be All Of Us

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Release Date: 14/08/2020

Record Label: Self-Released

For Fans Of: Radiohead, 65daysofstatic, HEALTH 

 

 

The idea of blending electronic music with rock is definitely not new; Radiohead, Nine Inch Nails, and most recently Health, have all shown just what brilliant results it can yield. However Bristollian trio Poisonous Birds somehow manage to renew that core idea and turn it into something wholly their own, blending lo-fi pulsating synths with live drums to create moody soundscapes which sit somewhere between post-rock and dance music. With their latest EP, We Can Never Not Be All Of Us, they push ever so slightly more into electronic music to create one of the most interesting and unique releases of the year. 

Trying to place Poisonous Birds musically is extremely tricky. Over these six tracks the trio seem to tap into such a vast range of sounds that the only real constant is the somehow oppressive yet laid-back atmosphere which they create. Despite there being moments which border on being ‘heavy’ sonically, such as the tribal drumming of ‘We Move, Plastic’, it never loses that feeling of a techno track that might be heard in any of the clubs in Berlin. There is also great restraint shown here, maintaining a feeling of things just bubbling under the surface. That isn’t to say that there isn’t any pay-off to all this careful building, it’s just that it’s often so subtle and lifts the mood just enough to barely be noticeable which is perfect for the mood Poisonous Birds create. While the majority of this EP is very cinematic and almost feels like a bit of a mood board, the group still manage to add in glimpses of simply brilliant pop-rock songwriting in ‘True Colour’.This track opens with syncopated blips which are reminiscent of electro-emo duo The Postal Service and features the biggest vocal hook on the record as Tom Ridley laments ‘Where art goes to die’. 

With any electronic music how everything actually sounds is also key in order to capture all the subtleties, and as ‘Mood Stabiliser’ swirls and reverberates around it is a great demonstration of just how well produced the record is. It also presents the best case for why headphones are the ideal choice for listening to it. Another great example of this is ‘I was sat by the window and there was a bright light and I was very sad’ which is a high-energy drum and bass track which also seems to bring in elements of 90s dance and rave sounds that add some extra intrigue and shows just how broad their pool of inspiration is.   

Perhaps the thing that really marks Poisonous Birds out though is how well they blend the bulk of their electronic sound with the ‘live’ instruments and how this adds that little bit of extra energy and personality. It definitely feels like this latest release leans much more heavily into the electronic side than before which does make things feel more interesting overall, and thanks to being more sparsely used when the instruments do come in it helps to show that personality and bring an extra edge. The title track shows this best and makes for a really grand ending by the relatively lo-fi standard set throughout the rest of the EP. 

When creating music which is as experimental as this, it’s so easy to get lost and ultimately end up forgetting that songs are still so important, but that never happens on WCNNBAOU. Instead everything feels like it’s working in service of the atmosphere and the tracks as a whole showing how palatable experimentation can still be. At only twenty-two minutes, there is no excuse for anyone to not at least give Poisonous Birds a try, it is another brilliant showcase of how interesting and vibrant the UK underground scene is right now. 

Rating: 8/10 

Recommended Tracks: ‘Warm Jets’, ‘We Can Never Not Be All Of Us’ 

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