Imagine if Arab Strap had a singer that had a lot more range (instead of just mumbling with a thick Scottish accent most of the time) and wasn't so damn negative all the time, and what you end up with might just be Bobby Birdman (aka Rob Kiewwetter). Mixing electronics and occassional beats with nice guitar melodies, it's basically folk rock with a twist, or whatever everyone else is calling it these days. These elements not only sprinkle into the songs, but allow them to flow over onto one another, making the album more of document of up and down emotions rather than a piece with 10 different tracks.
In fact, the opening track on the album starts out with some of the most basic elements of the entire disc. With only a strum of guitar and a slight pitter-patter of a drum machine, the vocals of Kieswetter take the center stage and provide for a delicate beginning before a slowed-down, chunky hip-hop beat starts rumbling along on "Moving On/Up." Juxtaposing it nicely, though, is a light acoustic guitar melody and crooning vocals that sound like they've been sung into a tin can. That same beat continues for the next short instrumental track before it drops out and the minimal "Golden Arms." With only low-end hums and backward guitars for backing, the track keeps the same sort of off-kilter, woozy feel that the first few started.
The centerpiece of the album is the 8-minute "J Tear" and it may just take a couple listens for it to sink in. Starting out with over two minutes of looped, whispered counting vocals, it lulls you off before a building guitar melody and vocals come in and overtake it to create a pretty love song that takes one back to the period of the 60's from which Birdman took his moniker. On "Such An Icy Feeling," things are again stripped down to only sampled breathing and vocals which are cut-up to fit with the simple lyrics before they cut out completely and electronic tones ping-pong back and forth for the remainder. The rock-out moment at the beginning of "Blue Skies" feels a touch out-of-place coming after all the quiet and introspection, but given that the song is also about such, the sing-song refrain ends up working pretty well.
Another artist that I also find myself slightly reminded by is the work of Frankie Sparo if his guitar and electronic work weren't so jagged and cold. By the time that you get to the quiet closer of "Perfect For Light," the album has from quiet to loud and back to soft again, and it's an interesting release for those who like the "guy with a guitar plus" sound (Badly Drawn Boy tends to be a bit more lush in production, but could even be a dropping-off point). For a debut album, there are a lot of excellent things going on, and hopefully things only get more so in the future.