I am a child of the late 80s / early 90s. I grew up in the alternate universe of sub-genred metal and missed a whole heap of great music in the process. Lately I've been trying to rectify this and have been seeking out the predominantly indie sounds that I completely ignored when they were released.
I have been totally enamoured with the output from 4AD in this period ... bands like Cocteau Twins, Dead Can Dance, This Mortal Coil, and His Name Is Alive have me kicking myself that I was so blinkered in my youth. I am, however, making amends.
If someone were to have given me my fear and me from Liverpudlian band BIRD and said they were a band I had missed on 4AD from this period, I would have easily believed them. This is not to call BIRD's sound dated, by no means, but to highlight how exemplary this record is.
my fear and me is an ultimately timeless expression from a band (Adele Emmas, Sian Williams, Alexis Samata and Christian Sandford) who understand that less is truly more. This album is stripped bare of the superfluous & the unnecessary. Every moment calculated with care like a calorie-obsessed dieter counting their intake. The guitars are exquisitely presented and expertly layered, they work perfectly with the percussion and subtle synth work to create very evocative walls-of-sound. Not much is added apart from a field recording in the final track.
BIRD’s lead singer - Adele Emmas - is reminiscent of Julie Cruise and Stephanie Dosen, albeit with the ethereal turned down a couple of notches. Her poetic phrasing and vocal delivery fits perfectly with the guitar-orientated walls-of-sound that back her. However, Emmas has so much power in her voice, so much oomph to be labelled solely as 'ethereal'. Think of a less frantic Shirley Manson backed by a Garbage stripped of their loops & electronic trickery and you’ll come close to the beauty of Emmas’ expression.
Stand out tracks include the opener - 'Ghost' - with it's dark, foreboding atmosphere, powerful guitars and evocative vocals that are underpinned by synths and hypnotic percussion ... and 'Oh My Love' with it's catchy melody, further pounding percussion and an exceptional vocal performance from Emmas.
My personal favourite track - 'Sea Of Trees' - is a roller-coaster of a ride with a dark, almost Bauhaus-esque guitar-laden atmosphere and pounding drums underpinning Emmas' now trademark otherworldly expressive beauty. When the timing changes, when the track slows down, I am in rapture ... a feeling that is only amplified when the original galloping pace is restored. This is track five and by this point, I was sold.
Track six - ‘I Am The Mountain’ - is where Emmas, Williams, Samata and Sandford truly shine. This will be the song that they are remembered for. Poetic. Atmospheric. Melodic. Evocative. Powerful. All these words can be used to describe this track. It is a beauty. It is utterly captivating, it takes hold and doesn't let go. Without damning the track, I could easily hear it on the soundtrack to a dark, supernatural teen drama.
One further stand-out track is 'Rain Song', a track that showcases all that is brilliant about BIRD and their sound - well crafted, powerful, hypnotic, and euphoric. Nothing is overplayed and there are no unnecessary elements restricting our view.
All in, I thoroughly enjoyed this release and would highly recommend it. Is it a key album of 2014? Most definitely.