Au Revoir Simone
The Bird of Music
he cover for The Bird of Music has the three girls of Au Revoir Simone dressed in virginal white against an abyss of sunshine—and so it makes sense when they say that their music could have soundtracked The Virgin Suicides. And they're not too far off. If there was any kind of trope to stretch across this one, it would be from that film: the limerent, boy-voyeur coming upon a bunch of bedroom sirens trapped between gilded walls, getting caught up in the buckle and swoon of humid flesh and musty bedrooms.
The Bird of Music sounds like that sort of pop-vigil; with reconstituted instruments that sound like byzantine synths and Sunday morning organs, bleeding equal parts innocence and sturm und drang. The drum machine sounds like feet endlessly pacing bedroom floors and there's plaintive vocals with diary-fed lines about, you know, feelings—a boon to the big buckets of romantic despondence that coat most of the album's eleven tracks.
Opener "Lucky One" is a petite anthem with a windchimey send-up that stutters into an all-for-one sing-along, "Let the sunshine / Let it come / To show us that tomorrow is eventual." From then on things range from emotive dirge to buoyant dirge, with a few quiet stunners stuffed in between. "Fallen Snow" borrows a chapel organ for a tentative stomp through a tough breakup, one of the album's most recurring themes. A song set to heartbeats, "Violent Yet Flammable World" is caught up in a big wash of hum and brood. The girls trade harmonies between a cascading melody and soundtrack music so soul-sopping that it can overload the lyrics—which it too often does. Head-scratch simile "We fold like icicles on paper shelves" never begins to make sense. You've come upon the unlocked diary of a crush only to find an itemized list of digested foods and unicorn doodles.
The Bird of Music would seem to be the same unadorned synth-pop-as-confessional that came of age with the Young Marble Giants and recently burned up all over again with the Blow. And when it comes off right, it's effortless and overwhelming. But there's always the caveat of this sort of fantasy; The Girl in Glass Case thing only really works when the glass gets shattered: there's blemishes and idiosyncrasies and a funny walk but you're already won over. Closer waltz "The Way to There" latently admits that maybe Au Revoir Simone haven't busted their fingers yet: "If you feel compelled towards me / Then it's just gravity."
Reviewed by: Daniel Denorch
Reviewed on: 2007-05-14