Tuesday, March 26, 2013

EP Review :: Birds Vs. Planes :: Narrow Angles

Birds Vs Planes

Narrow Angles (Music Bakery)


Words: Dave Beech

Since forming in 2006, Carlisle-based quintet Birds Vs Planes have developed a fan base across the north of England, before breaking out of the local scene and following in the footsteps of bands such as Wild Beasts and Little Comets in garnering fans nationwide. Now, following up their first single 'Sew Up the Sky' the band release their d├ębut EP 'Narrow Angles' on Music Bakery records.

The benefit of having several band members is that each member can bring a variety of different influences to the table when making a record. This is evident with BVP across each of the five tracks included on 'Narrow Angles'. Elements of math-rock are coupled with indie-pop sensibilities underneath a post-punk veneer, all the while singer Jenny belts out her vocal parts with unprecedented energy and emotion.

'Relative Worth' kicks off the record with an angular intro that's reminiscent of Paramore. Thankfully though, the similarities end with the intro as Jenny's vocals give a taste of things to come. During the verses her voice is acute, angular, meeting the aesthetic uphold by the guitar part. Throughout the chorus and pre-chorus however, her voice is silky smooth and glides over the song's instrumentation with ease and finesse, particularly excelling herself during the chorus.

The second track 'Romantic Assault' features further angular guitars and is somewhat evocative of early Bloc Party. Here the vocal track appears slightly repetitive and fairly flat when compared to other tracks on 'Narrow Angles'. That is only in comparison with the other songs featured, particularly track 3 'We Get to Drop' which sees Jenny sounding somewhere in between The Joy Formidable and electro indie band Kaputt. 'We Get to Drop' is the first song featured in which the bass line is prominent, and it benefits from the fact to a surprising extent.

'Little Blue' is undoubtedly the strongest song on the EP and, for the first 90 seconds or so, sees Jenny's vocals almost acapella, accompanied only by an understated-yet-atmospheric background and the occasional note from a guitar. At roughly a minute and a half the drums kick in and the song begins it's ascension to the evocative and crashing highlight that it is. Again comparisons can be drawn here between BVP and The Joy Formidable formulating themselves particularly in the shimmering vibrato of the guitar in the final verse. This will undoubtedly become a live favourite, much like the aforementioned Joy Formidable's 'Silent Treatment'. The charisma upheld by Jenny is evident throughout the whole album, but here it's coupled with fraught emotion that is both heartbreaking and endearing.

It's not very often a band manages to merge a multiplicity of influences and genres in to a record. Particularly one less than 20 minutes long. Against the odds, however, Birds Vs Planes have crafted a record that gives their influences a nod without emulating them entirely and keeping the record very much their own. 'Narrow Angles' is an EP that rattles along at a breakneck speed and takes several listens before the nuances and intricacies really begin to reveal themselves. But once that polished veneer has been scratched away it becomes clear that the band have a lot of time and a lot of love for what they're doing, this is proven not only by the care that has gone in to recording these songs, but also because of the length of time it's taken to release the record. Where a lot of bands these days try to record and release everything they can, BVP have taken the time and the effort to make an EP that perfectly exhibits their influences and their collective energies, and by god it shows.

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