Plumbiferous Media

Mimicking Birds – Mimicking Birds

Mar 11th 2010
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Mimicking Birds - Mimicking BirdsMimicking Birds
Mimicking Birds
Score: 84

Portland band Mimicking Birds began as the home recorded solo project of now frontman Nate Lacy. Since its humble beginning, the group has gone on to tour with Modest Mouse as well as be signed to Modest Mouse frontman Isaac Brock’s new label, Glacial Pace. The Birds’ first, self-titled, album was released on the 9th and aptly demonstrates Lacy’s creativity as well as Mimicking Birds’ potential as a full-fledged group.

Mostly comprised of acoustic guitar, though interspersed with percussion synth, and some electric guitar, the instrumentals of Mimicking Birds are delicate and generally unadorned, though not to enough of an extent that they become anything close to a side attraction next to the vocals. In fact, they strike a near perfect balance between technical facility and musical variation. One of the best tracks, “Remnants and Pictures,” modulates through emotionally powerful but dynamically delicate moods, resulting in a heavily emotional and simply beautiful track.

Lacy’s vocals are quite well suited to the sort of slow, nuanced music that Mimicking Birds plays – soft and near-plaintive, with occasional quirks that make him sound even better. Lacy does occasionally slip into mumbling, and the sibilant sections which normally accentuate the instrumentals are occasionally a bit too overt. However, for the most part, Lacy’s voice just plain works. There’s not much vocal variation across the album (though a few tracks display impressive use of vocal harmonies), but given that it’s so successful, this isn’t much of an issue. So regardless of any of its small faults, Lacy’s vocals are responsible for a great deal of Mimicking Birds‘ success.

Mimicking Birds is incredibly lyrically rich. Lacy never tires of creating vivid, enthralling images in his lines, from the simpler tracks such as Cabin Fever, which use a few lines to say a great deal, to “Home and Somewhere Else…”‘s “swollen and numb conundrum.” Perhaps the best track in terms of lyrics, however, is “The Loop,” which tells the story of the life and death of a planet, describing the infinite transformation of energy – in Lacy’s words, “Some random formation / Occurring in the same equation / Building new destruction.”

As can be expected from a band like Mimicking Birds, the album falls very cleanly into its well defined sub-genre. Unfortunately, the sub-genre the band has created is small enough that, while most of the tracks on Mimicking Birds sound sufficiently unique, one still feels like the album lacks any real sort of diversity. This is not to say that the album does not do well in its limited range of sounds – it, in fact, does excellently. It does, however, leave a mark on the album. Though much of Mimicking Birds is very, very strong, it still seems that the album was not at its utmost best.

With Mimicking Birds, Mimicking Birds has made a strong entry into the larger music industry. There is nothing on the album that is anything like bad. Tracks on the album range from good to excellent, very few of which are “only” good. Recording quality is spot on, vocals are slightly quirky but strong, overall sound doesn’t vary much, but has certainly centered in a sweet spot, and Nate Lacy has more than a way with words. Most of Mimicking Birds‘s flaws are very minor, so the band will need very little luck to make strong improvements before the release of a second album.

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