erasing clouds

Biirdie, Morning Kills the Dark

reviewed by dave heaton

Biirdie's Morning Kills the Darkopens with a song about Jenny Lewis that also references a song by her band Rilo Kiley, and closes with a song that sounds quite like Bright Eyes (and David Dondero by relation). Is Biirdie angling to become the next California band to get the attention of a certain label from Omaha? I don't know, and it doesn't matter, really. For while I can't quite shake the feeling that Biirdie are consciously pushing their sound in a certain direction, Morning Kills the Dark is still a great reminder that you don't have to sound completely original to make a rewarding album, that the most affecting songs aren't necessarily the most innovative.

Morning Kills the Dark is an emotional tale of moving across the country, falling in love, feeling wistful about the past...all those things we all do. The album has a very personal, intimate feeling to it, and not just because the band's lead singer Jared Flamm and harmony singer Kala Savage seem to be singing love songs to each other half the time. The warmth comes from lyrics filled with details that feel in synch with real life, with real feelings and experiences. But it also comes from the sound of the album, and the instrumentation. Piano, guitars, voices all feel like they're cloaked with a glow.

Hazy country-pop and a certain style of open-hearted indie-folk are at the forefront of Biirdie's sound, and they come together in a way that, as I said, feels rather familiar. But that familiarity also generates comfort, which intensifies the feeling that the album is about your life as much as it's about theirs. Yet there also are plenty of small moments on the album where the music diverges from its expected track, and these shouldn't be overlooked. There's the dub reggae break in "You've Got Darkness", the church-choir vocals on "The Other Side of Sunset," the nearly psychedelic crawl the music trips into at one point during the really lovely ballad "To Know That You Need Me," only to then clarify itself as the mood of a clear sunny day.

Morning Kills the Dark is split into the "morning side" and the "dark side", yet the light and the dark are clearly intertwined all the way through. The title tells you which side wins, too; on the whole the album stands as a tender portrait of the ways that we can find brightness in even the darkest moments. That brightness, the morning, is essentially love, affection, human connection. "I'm gonna tell you something/something that is true/put it in a letter/hope it gets to you," long-distance lovers sing to each other near the end of the album. That same sentiment guides the album, in a way. Morning Kills the Dark has a lot of truth in it, a lot of beauty, and those are things that ultimately override the deja vu feeling.


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