The Wind-Up Birds - Poor Music - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

The Wind-Up Birds - Poor Music

by Andy Brown Rating:9 Release Date:2014-05-27

The Wind-Up Birds' 2012 album, The Land, stood as one of the most genuinely exciting debut albums I had heard in some time. The band took indie by the scruff of its neck and gave us an album brimming with intelligence, wit and a sense of purpose. So many bands have embarrassingly little to say, be that musically or lyrically. In contrast, The Land seemed desperate to engage with the listener on everything from our sense of nationality and the decline of the record shop to the dangers of nostalgia. Two years later and the band have finally returned with the equally enthralling Poor Music.  

The band have cited Pavement's sprawling Wowee Zowee as an influence on the new album and certainly that record's eclectic nature has left an imprint on Poor Music. The album is under an hour but with 17 tracks and some reoccurring themes which tie the whole thing together. Poor Music stands as an ambitiously engaging smorgasbord of ideas. The Pavement influence is primarily a structural one; the hazy, stoned tone of Malkmus’ finest record replaced with urgency, dissatisfaction and social comment.

The album opens with the disgruntled kick in the face of ‘There Will Be No Departures from this Stand’. Kroyd’s lyrics have always been central to the bands aesthetic and he is certainly on fine form here. Among the tracks insistent keyboard motif, Kroyd deconstructs the frustrating bombardment of contradictions, mediocrity and disappointment we’re habitually force-fed: "Sportsmen went on adverts claiming winning is everything… Then we all found out that winning is really, really boring”.

The Wind-Up Birds are not the types to just lay back and take it and the band's fighting spirit runs through every track. This is not the kind of thing we’re being offered by the bafflingly popular bands which seem to shift the most units year after year (perhaps an easy target, but why are Coldplay still so popular?) There’s a real outsider spirit to Poor Music and a belief that some things are still worth doing properly.

Recent single ‘The Gristle’ stands as another highlight with its jagged, distorted riffs and Kroyd defiantly singing, “For one short time we had superpowers/ Yeah, we squandered them but we had fun”. Like The Walkmen’s ‘The Rat’, the track's ever-building tension is enough to send satisfied shivers down even the most cynical of spines. The Wind-Up Birds demand your full attention; pleasant background music was never an option.

The band has garnered comparisons to the likes of Art Brut and even The Fall, yet there’s a stronger emotional core at the centre of their finest moments. Take the anthemic ‘Two Ambulance Day’, on which the protagonist witnesses the aftermath of some undisclosed accident, “I pretend I’ve not noticed/ It’s easier to look away”. Not many bands have the ability or, indeed, the inclination to cover the kind of topics that The Wind-Up Birds cover here.

Poor Music is the sound of a band defiantly fighting its own corner and sticking to its guns (“Poor music/ It's music for the poor/ The poor don’t want it/ We do it anyway”). The album delivers exactly what a sophomore release should do; they’ve refined and expanded on their sound, creating something of a defining statement in the process. So if you’re a little tired of disappointing new ‘indie’ acts and need a little substance, than look no further. You deserve better; you deserve The Wind-Up Birds.

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