The Wind-Up Birds - The Land - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

The Wind-Up Birds - The Land

by Andy Brown Rating:8 Release Date:2012-05-28

The Wind-Up Birds have been gaining new converts with every live appearance and 7in record, but it seems like we've been waiting for their debut album for a long time. The single which first brought them to my attention, the incendiary 'Tyre Fire', came out back in 2010. It was the single's b-side which garnered the most enthusiastic praise; 'There Won't Always Be an England' saw lyricist Paul Ackroyd lead us through a deconstruction of the British psyche via a drunken conversation with a racist in a bar and the narrowly avoided confrontation that followed. Both these songs re-appear on their debut LP, The Land, the culmination of the last few years and a rather fine debut album.

If you're new to the Wind-Up Birds than opening track 'Good Shop Shuts' should tell you all you need to know. A rallying call to the moaning masses and an open love letter to independent record shops, Ackroyd pulls no punches as he sings, "While we moan like owt then a good shop shuts, we'd take the blame if we had the guts". Next up there's recent single 'Cross Country' which see's Ackroyd reminiscing about that most horrendous of school experiences; "I'd slotted into my place at the back, with all the fat gets and the kids who just walked and talked". It doesn't get him down for long though as he shrugs the memories off, "I've been on my own since, a corporate rebel, a bit like Prince".

After the drunkenly graceful 'There Won't Always Be an England' we get the meaty 'Being Dramatic', with Ackroyd turning his pinpoint observations on himself: "I mention mood swings but I'm really quite static, I was just being dramatic". Like a less cocksure Eddie Argos, no one gets off lightly with The Wind-Up Birds. The next track, 'Nostalgic For…' is a strong contender for the album's finest moment, lending as it does even further musical and lyrical depth to proceedings. The music starts like prime-time The Fall before the chaos subsides and slow, almost Mogwai-esque, guitars creep in with Ackroyd reminding us, "And you don't let them forget it apart from when it suits you". It's a dark, beautiful and powerful piece of music that sits proudly at the centre of the album.

'Wonder St' picks up the pace with spiky Buzzcocks guitars as Ackroyd relays another tale of lost youth: "I lost an eye in Wonder Street, air rifle incident". 'No People Just Cutouts' combines unlikely Eighties Matchbox B-line Disaster influences with a particularly ill-tempered performance by Ackroyd: "Well, good luck staring through my lead curtains".

'Escape from New Yorkshire' is a pretty old track given a new lease of life and it sounds suitably urgent as Ackroyd sings, "Hold your breath and slip through the railings". The brilliant 'Popman' lightens the lyrical tone as Ackroyd tells us about his ideal profession: "I always fancied being a popman, what? Like a milkman for pop". 'Tyre Fire' still sends shivers down the spine before the languidly beautiful melancholy of the title track brings proceedings to a close.

There was always the risk of disappointment after such a long wait but The Land is a hugely satisfying listen. The Wind-Up Birds deliver literate, witty and urgent indie-punk that reaffirms your faith in the power of a good tune and an intelligent lyric, and for that they should be applauded.

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