Thrill Me is available at:
27th July, 2015
The album Figments of Our Imagination is available from:
Girl Can’t Decide– 9.4
Thrill Me– 9.5
The Dare– 9.5
Small Town– 9.4
Love Love Love– 9.3
Drink Drink Drink– 9.3
Think So– 9.4
Girl Can’t Decide; Thrill Me; The Dare; Think So
September 18th, 2015
AFTER a week reviewing the boys- and my D.J. set next week featuring male-dominated sounds- it…
is great to be back with the girls: Starting with one of our best and most undervalued solo acts. Despite having a common moniker, Bird is anything but: Her Alternative-Pop musings infuse raw emotion and sparkling wordplay; some real emotion and vibrant sounds- all melted together in a head-rushing boiling pot. There is always some fear and hesitation when reviewing a new solo act. I have said it before and will say it again: The solo realm is one of the most uncertain and patchy there is- not really producing as much quality as it should. With the Mercury Prize nominees revealed- and it being composed of a lot of great bands- it makes you wonder about the solo market; just how dependable it is- how many truly wonderful artists there are out there. One of the biggest issues- when it comes to ratiolising this slight- is the media dominance of band promotion. Their sights are always trained to the bands coming through- maybe overlooking the solo acts- as the band market pulls in the most money. Although there are some great groups out there, it would be unfair to say most solo work out there is lackluster and inferior: Bird proves what can happen when you really listen; give the listeners what they want- take them to a very special place. I shall come to her soon; but for now, I am interested in the female solo sector: What sounds are coming through; expectations for 2016; the balance of power in the music industry. On that first point- and when we look at the girls of new music- there is a dazzling array of ideas if scintillating. There are a great number of Electro.-Pop artists- each providing their own insight into the genre- and seducing listeners with ease. Just in London alone there are so many great Electro. acts: From NINA to Ivy & Gold- two acts I have reviewed before- they cover a wide spectrum; if you open your eyes and minds, you can discover so much. What I find with male acts- as opposed to their female counterparts- is the limitations and realities. There are a lot of great Folk/Pop acts (male) but there are fewer that really spread their wings- fuse genres and cover a wide variety of sounds. Whilst the men are better at Rock-orientated sounds, their portfolio is not as gleaming and ambitious as the girls- who showcase a nimbleness and adaptability that is inspiring a lot of new acts. The girls are masters of Soul and Pop; they are effortless and timeless when blending their voices into electronic compositions- I am probably not doing them a great justice. My point is, the solo market should not feel deflated and overlooked: New musicians are showing just how good they are; in time they will rise to the mainstream- claim glory and give the industry a good kick. The next year is looking rather positive: What I have heard this year has been the finest for a while; there have been so many great acts coming through the ranks- possible headliners for next year’s festivals. What has been apparent- that was missing over the last few years- is the songwriting talent and the compositional ambition. From reviewing a whole host of acts- from around the world and across the genres- is the quality and urgency that comes out. In past years there has been a lot of vague and disposable music: This year so many long-lasting and wondrous artists have come through. Chocolate-scented Soul lamentations have nestled alongside rampant and primal Rock gems; effervescent and crowd-uniting Pop and heart-melting Folk stylings- 2015 has rather spoiled us. So what of next year? Bird is one artist that could well be a key player in the market- a regular of the radio playlists and a festival darling. Already garnering hot reviews- from the national newspapers, underground blogs and…well, me– you have an army of media lovers behind her. The press have compared (Bird) with Ellie Goulding and Sia; the cream of the modern Pop crop- that would do her a disservice. I guess we need to levy comparisons to give the listener- sometimes untrained and ingénue- a guidance and starting-point- I feel Bird have advantages of her gilded peers. Her instrumentation and nuanced compositions- a noteworthy and regular review standout- is something that behold; the vocals surpass cliché and easy comparison- such a seamless mix of sweet and impassioned; strong determination and some fragile edges. Janie Price- the woman behind the bird- is one of the most intuitive and accomplished musicians around at the moments: Her music is lauded for its inventiveness and fusions; how she mixes old and new- music you cannot quite put your finger on. Not conventional as Pop; not as honed as Electronica; not quite Alternative- some wonderful and beautiful sub-breed that is wowing audiences with its multifarious plumage and glistening teeth; its incredible speed and immense ability (quite an odd freak of a hybrid there!). Figments of Our Imagination is Bird’s daring and brilliant new L.P.: Just looking at the track-listing wets the appetites. From Drink Drink Drink to Love Love Love and Lucky– almost a story and romantic entanglement in itself- you get a little window into its tales and torments; its humour and passions- just what is in store. I shall investigate the album some more- towards the end of the review- but it seems Bird is wowing and buckling critical knees- and rightfully so!
Before I look at Thrill Me– and pick-apart Figments of Our Imagination– I am going to look back: See how far the young songwriter has come; how her modern work stacks up against older tracks- and what developments have occurred.
Girl and a Cello arrived (six years ago now- following her debut album). It all begins with the instrument in question: Building from sparse and classical foundations, the mini-L.P. runs a gamut of avenues and moments- never resting with one sound or way of thinking. Songs like Bad Connection are more funked-up and dancey: Price showing how varied and stretching she can be- whilst keeping her core sound set and firm. Some Boys’ tongue-in-cheek sexuality- a play on The Smiths’ Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others perhaps? – sees the young artist playing with seediness and seductiveness. Elsewhere, 18 looks at flashbacks and youthful desires; High Price looks at more staunch and harder issues- perhaps the album’s most angry and serious moment. The collection sees Bird tackle Pixies’ Debaser– turning its demented and animalistic yowls into something more composed- and gives it a breath of fresh air. The entire collection shows how Bird can keep a central and distinct sound firm: Mixing in harder edges and different genres; she manages to captivate the listener with her incredible voice and undeniable commitment.
Some Boys E.P. arrived next- and was a step up from her previous work. Released in 2009 too, its Some Boys/20 Days combination (there was an alternative version of Some Boys too). Skipping and dancing; the title track is joined by Bird’s vocals- transposing and reinterpreting The Smiths’ classic. Beautifully suited to her voice, our heroine gives the song a new lease of life- making it sound fresh and her own. Backed by a sparse spiraling string- some basic percussive beat- it is just the voice and words: Bird is in control and completely intoxicating here. 20 Day is just as affecting and memorable: The young artist is urgent and commanding; confident and spellbinding- ensuing punch and panache is packed into a short space of time. A natural bedmate to her existing work, Some Boys E.P. provided a step forward in terms of confidence and authority: Never had she sounded as meaningful and blissful. Whether it is a single, E.P. or an album; Bird shows just how strong she is; how adaptable and diverse, too.
The Dare is one of Bird’s more recent cuts- it dates back to earlier this year. The track mixes some fuzz and static with a strumming and tender acoustic guitar strum. Bird’s vocals come into the fray quickly. Words speaking of playing the game and being the same; on the edge of a concrete ledge- it all puts vivid images in the mind. Although someone is calling out, our heroine is on the edge- and looking down. Perhaps she is daring someone- that she can survive or go right to the edge- and that tense and unpredictability is echoed in the composition. The vocals begin punctuated and carefully deployed; as the song develops- along with the composition- they accelerate and rush: The track gets more frantic and fast-paced; taking the listener along with it. It is hard to compare the song with another- or any other artist freely- as it has a unique and impressive skin. It dips and climbs; stops and starts: That momentum and unpredictable energy is what makes it so gripping. The refrain (that begins) “Is it nearly over?’ is repeated like a mantra: A haunting and intriguing deceleration that produces all sorts of emotions and possibilities. An impressive and hugely memorable track, Bird much she progressed and how confident she sounds. In 2015, the London artist has not rested or taken time for a breather: with a brand-new album, she is back in force and at her very peak. Drawing in all her existing strands; introducing new topics and storylines- such a mesmeric and unstoppable force. I guess touring will come- before Christmas- and new listeners and reviews are discovering Bird’s talent.
Thrill Me is a track I have been looking at closely. The sophomore track from her album, it is a quintessential Bird composition: It can be no other artists around; something inimitably hers. Racing out of the blocks, the song has trippy and hurrying beginnings: The combination of electronic pulses and exhilarated percussive beats creates an instant start- the listener is hooked from the very off. In a way, the initial moments remind me of ‘80s New-Wave/Synth.-Pop (in a good way): Bird has always mingled older sounds and new; here you get evocations of ‘80s blitz and modern-day Pop in one little package. Caught in the primal beats and swelling atmosphere, you wonder what the vocal will recall; how the lyrics will develop- what will come first. The initial sentiments see a heroine prescribed: She “ties her hair back”; you get a very gentle and simple image to start things off- your mind races to imagine the looks/idiosyncrasies of the song’s central figure. Tearing the pages out- “Some things she has seen”- there is some ambiguity in there; just what is being referred to? Maybe a magazine page- images of beautiful women or odd scenes- or pages from a book/diary- a personal outburst or low state of affairs. Like all great songs, the early moments tease and compel you to think: After that desirous and stunning introduction; the song’s early sentiments create a maze of myriad possibilities. Whatever is being torn and referenced; he is “staring back”- maybe a lost lover or heartbreaking anti-hero? I get ideals of a lover that has broken her heart: Someone that was untrustworthy and a no-good liar; perhaps having cheated and betrayed (our heroine). Throughout the lyrical outpouring, you are caught by the vocals and composition. Bird’s voice is firm and impassioned- containing some gentility among the power- and it is allowed to fly and pervade with clarity. Backed by superb and clear production values, Thrill Me’s vocals are allowed to reign in the mix: Not fettered and overwhelmed by the composition; nor blended low in the mix- every word and note is crisp and vibrant. That said, the composition does not get second billing: The punchy beats and buzzing electronics- there are little see-saw strings that cut in occasionally- are as clear and impressive. My ideas of heartbreak and anger might be short-sighted. It is said (the hero/man) is everything she needs; someone that compels song and outpouring- maybe someone who is causing some swoon and attraction. That initial paper-ripping was out of lust and girlish desire: Given the song’s title; that interpretation makes a little more sense. After some relatively composed and tender beginnings, the chorus bursts into life: That voice rushes and augments- with a little bit of Sia and Kylie Minogue in places- with passion and huge force. A mix of powerful Pop and delicate Synth.-Pop it is a marriage of delicate and striking: The chorus ranks among one of Bird’s best; something that is instantaneous and catchy. The heroine- whether it is Bird herself- is waiting to be thrilled; wanting to go dancing through the night, that romantic longing radiates and explodes. Sure that things will go right; this feeling is the real thing- you are invested in her fantasy and plight; that beguiled and swimming affection. The persistency and urgency never relents: The composition keeps building and rushing; the whole mood and blend is designed to get voices singing and smiles created- a sunshine-bringing slice of song. Not your average/traditional song- that deals with heartache and personal anxieties- there is some positivity and redemptiveness at the surface- something that eschews modern values; brings something much more inspirational into music. That wave and swell of compositional elements- the high-pitched electronics and lower sounds; the spiking beats and slams- are stunning. Blended with a rousing and soul-bearing vocal, the song really hits its stride. As it progresses, we learn the heroine is incomplete and lying to herself: Tears are pouring and this fantasy is causing some noxious effects. The lack of reality and clinging to dreams is causing her to lose her senses and mind; that desire to be thrilled and seduced will never be- you cannot shake off that feeling of loss and sadness. The man in the magazine seems to be an ideal suitor: Whether escaping her own life and demons, she is clinging to something fake and fantastical- a topic and theme that will resonate with many. In modern society, a great deal of people are obsessed with magazine images and fantasy; false ideals and something they can never obtain- few songs deal with this issue with such conviction and economy. Bird’s voice ensures every word and line sticks directly in the mind: Never overwrought and overly-emotive, it is pure and direct- breaking through the beats to leave its mark. Once more, that composition swings back in: The second time, you are singing along and the feet are tapping. The girl with the ordinary life wants the fairytale love: You always want it to work out knowing it never will. In the final minute, the composition starts to take the spotlight. After the second chorus, the electronics and beats mutates and bend; there are little parables that come and go- emotions and feelings represented in sonic waves; you get a real sense of progression and development. In the early stages, it was the vocals and lyrics that told the story: Here, the composition takes charge and provokes images and possibilities- each listener will have their own interpretation of events. Scuttling and syncopated; primal and eventful, the beats race and rush- adding to that air of dissatisfaction and heartache; the fear and loss. The chorus comes back in and completes Thrill Me. By the final moments, you have a complete picture in mind: That tearful and dejected heroine; wanting the magazine man to come and save her- she does not want to be caught in a life that seems boring and hopeless. There is a mix of juvenile and youthful innocence and adulthood woes: The central figure has fairytale desires yet is caught in a miasma of strife and personal crisis- maybe fantasising is a way to escape the disturbing aspects of her life (or maybe I am just overreaching).
What impresses me about Thrill Me is its mesmeric and unending pace and potency. From that intricate and nuanced beginning, the song grows and evolves into something stunning. Bird’s voice is commanding and dramatic in every moment: Mixing cooing and tender utterances with anxious power and pace, you are always invested and fascinated by the voice. Most modern songs are synonymous with one aspect (or maybe two): Here the words, music and vocals have equal weight. The lyrics will relate to anyone that has ever thought about escaping into a fantasy: We all dream of a better life and better love; something we cannot have but desperately need. Not just confined to the girls/young women, it is a subject that every listener can understand and appreciate. Presented with an original spin and unique edge; Bird ensures her lyrics are not clichés and stereotypes- she has always proved herself to be a fertile and mature songwriter. It is that maturity and intelligence that levitates the song above the pulpit of predictability and her peers. With a composition that says so much- without speaking a word- and you have a complete package. I was compelled to repeat the song and witness that chorus again: Get inside the lyrics and dig for new meaning; seek that voice out and fall for its charms and romance. With stunning and peerless production values- few songs resonate as clearly as this- and Thrill Me completely wins you over. Whilst a lot of modern songs are stymied by their lack of clarity and intensity; here you get a song that bursts with colour, passion and drama- it reveals new light and beauty upon each new spin. One of the album’s finest moments- the very best to my mind- and you see where Bird is now: One of our very best artists seems to be at her very peak.
Bird is showing how far she can really go: Her album is resonated with critics and fans; so many new people are flocking to her shores- something about the music just overpowers and wins your mind. Whether it is the musicianship and compositional adaptability; the refusal to be tied-down and honed-in- the bold and confident music; who knows? What I can say is that we have a terrific young songwriter in our midst: Someone who deftly dodges the pitfalls of some solo acts- the tepid songbook and rather aimless ambitions- because she has a natural talent and a great set of songs. Janie Price has been making music for a while now- and has released her fair share of records and singles- but this is her finest moment: Figments of Our Imagination is the summation and combination of her past glories; her modern ideas and future possibilities- woven together into an eye-catching and breath-taking tapestry. With a stunning musical talent and a distinct pedigree, the future is very bright for Bird- make sure you follow her closely. I started my review looking at female artists and the potential for 2016- and shall end summing-up Figments’- and it is apt to return to its feet. I have had my fill and share of the unworthy and senseless solo musicians: The John Lewis advert-scoring cover songstresses (who all sound exactly the same: robotic and utterly unpleasant); the Folk/Pop singers who strum and annoy (like a poor man’s Ed Sheeran, if you can stomach that) – the singers with an army of songwriters and an armada of producers. Music deserves talented and multi-skilled people; musicians that go the extra mile and try and subvert expectation- humans that want to do something different and bold. With so few about, we should herald and embrace those that rebel (if that is the appropriate word?) and make an impact. You feel Bird’s best days are still ahead of her: The new album is a wonderful work- something that is being acknowledged by all- yet she has so much more to give. More heartache and personal insight; more magic and music wizardry- simplicity and passion beauty and power. How she channels and disciplines her potential is in her hands: Her fan-base is rising and the demand going with it; the songwriting gets stronger and more assured with every passing release. As 2015 move on towards its end, the following year is in the womb and unready for the world- when it does arrive; all bets will be on- which musicians are the ‘ones to watch’- who will be dominating attention and producing the year’s best work. Bird is among a series of female songwriters that are starting to gain mass appeal: Get inside the column inches and make their voices heard- stand out from their peers and fellow songwriters. I am sure she will be performing around the U.K. – with the distinct possibility of international performance- and taking the time to take Figments of Our Imagination to the eager crowds. If you have not heard of the London-based musician; investigated an incredible and fascinating talent- make sure you remedy this at the earliest convenience. Few artists come around that are as special and filled with potential- for that reason, pick up Bird’s stunning album.
Figments of Our Imagination is a packed with gems and glistening tunes. Girl Can’t Decide begins with a beautiful introduction: Swooning strings and pattering beats blend with bubbling electronics to create something seductive and beguiling. A “high-class seduction” is underway: Our heroine is caught in complications and bad situations. Unsure of her mind and instincts, there is a need to figure things out. The vocal and chorus is entranced and beautiful: The composition sways and glistens in the background; the vocal is breathless and gorgeous. A song that deals with real-life qualms and confusion, it will speak to the listener with its reality and meanings. A terrific lead song, it gets the album off to a terrific start. The Dare– a song I have looked at and summarised- completes a wonderful 1-2-3. After the thrill-rides of Girl Can’t Decide and Thrill Me; The Dare is a darker and more introverted piece: One that looks at tense dares and concrete ledges. The composition is one of the most primal and hard-hitting on the L.P.; Bellicose percussion and ecstatic electronics create a template of fear and uncertainty. Stereotype begins with a gentle and skipping beat: Tender piano and a light vocal sees our heroine living as a stereotype- living life just like everyone else. The vocal skips and swoons- like the composition but more graceful even- to create something both catchy and romantic. Wanting more from life, our heroine seems stuck in a rut; perhaps tired of living in a mould- that desire to break free and experience more. The chorus is another wonder: Both bold and big, it is memorable and sing-along. Perhaps the album’s first insight into Bird’s classical talents- there is more emphasis on cello and strings here- it adds beauty and refinement to the track. After the rawness and vibrancy of The Dare; here there is a more gentle and tender affair. Hypnotise is the album’s most insistent beginning: That introduction is a dizzying and charming sound; the vocal quickly steps in- and leads the way. Perhaps one of the album’s less immediate cuts, it is a song that benefits from fonder investigated- it may take a few listens to really get its full force and potential. Brimming with love and desire; Bird lets her voice reach and glide- the production here allows all the components to blend seamlessly; create something of-the-moment and classic; a song that will be a sure-fire live favourite. Small Town has a slightly quirky and offbeat start. From the get-go it is a rather odd and fascinating song: It differs from everything that has come before. Multi-tracked vocals and syncopated percussion joins lyrics that look at escape and the need to run- see the wider world and go somewhere more fulfilling. Able to relate to the song’s messages, it is a particular favourite: A track that sees Bird at her most compelling and meaningful; let’s hope she has found satisfaction and a bigger town- somewhere that suits her a lot more. Lucky is a song that has a sweeping and piano-led introduction; a particularly stand-out beat- a song that looks at fears and superstitions; intrigue and mystery. One of the album’s most complete and memorable tracks, I was caught by that composition: There are Trip-Hop and Classical elements; a real fusion of sounds and sensations- it rises and falls; glides and runs. One of the best compositions I have heard for a while, it perhaps steals attention from the vocals and lyrics (not in a bad way) and has a life of its own. Love Love Love is a sparse and immediate track. Our heroine is following time and wanting to be a led to a better life: Wanting to grow and find certainty, it is a paen and plea to its guidance and mystery. The composition remains fairly light and unobtrusive as Bird lets her thoughts and emotions to do the talking: it is a very of-the-moment and current sound; one that could rank among the mainstream’s very best. Drink Drink Drink is not as drunkening as its title suggests. More haunting and ethereal than earlier numbers, Bird is determined and angry here. Calculations and lies are afoot: Our heroine wonders what will happen is she is drunk dry. A provocative and memorable image, there are big emotions and pains at heart. Gentle swaying and stumbling- the start of the intoxicated downfall- the drink metaphors are used to look at loss and leaving things behind; complications and troubles at heart. Again, the chorus is a big and quotable thing: It is another song that will have crowds singing and compel voices to join together. Think So ends the album with some scratchy and distorted beginnings; hand-claps and acoustic rush- the vocal is light and breezy; the mood more upbeat. One of the album’s more optimistic and upbeat songs; you are captivated by the wordless vocals and acoustic strings.
Across the ten tracks, you get ten sides of Bird: From fear and escape to yearning and dare-devil behavior, you are treated to some fantastic songs and wonderful moments. Never stagnated and one-sided, the album bursts with life and colours; range and possibility, it is an album that keeps you coming back- you cannot take it all in on the first listen. Perhaps Bird’s finest record, it should listened to by as many people as possible- an artist that deserves a lot more attention and fans. With few weak moments and unwavering and unimpeachable confidence, the string songwriting and stunning vocals are only met by detailed and varied compositions- Figments of Our Imagination is an album for those who love true music; want songs to capture their imagination and make them think. This year has been a good one for Bird; make sure you check Figments of Our Imagination out and…
LOOK out for what is to come.