LOCAL CD REVIEW: The Birdman Rallies - Moons (album)

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BEFORE you read on I’d like to say you’d be better advised to buy the new album by The Birdman Rallies rather than actually reading this review.

Sure, I’m certain to make some interesting points about the band led by Dan Webster, Harrogate’s undisputed king of offbeat pop, a reputation forged in previous bands such as Tigerbomb, Flowered 3rd and Wilma, the teenage band which won Fibbers Battle of the Bands way back in 1996.

Once again with The Birdman Rallies, the quality is so high, strong enough to be on a leading indie label like Domino or Bella Union or Witchita, that any criticisms I’m about to make are made because I do rate the band so highly.

In terms of style, Moons is a mild departure from the group’s previous albums.

There’s the usual urban intelligence applied to pastoral, mildly psychedelic, semi-acoustic pop – like early Elvis Costello tackling songs by Gruff Rhys of Super Furry Animals or Damon Albarn asked to cover Beck’s gentler moments, though Dan has a higher voice register than any of the above.

The difference on Moons is that Webster has added an even richer instrumental backing than usual with strong hints of electronica and the occasional spacey, echoing sheen of shivery early 60s beat pop.

Melodically, this ten-track album is another cracking, hook-packed collection of quietly quirky songs.

Best for me are the upbeat power-pop of opening track Telescope Katie and the haunting choruses of What Is This House.

Personally, I think it would be nice if, for once, Webster and The Birdman Rallies took their foot off the clever pedal in terms of arrangements and let the song speak for itself as, in fact, happens on the lovely ballad Lampshades.

See, I’m falling into nit-picking again about a band as pop as Prince or Brian Wilson and nearly as brilliant.

Far better I let the amazing creativity of The Birdman Rallies speak for itself.

Stop reading this review, go buy the album.

Graham Chalmers