“Narcissus broke a mirror and put the shards into his arm // Via hypodermic needle but it didn’t do him harm // A little self-reflection went a long, long way // Now he’s hiding in the cellar, scared to show the world his face”
Sex. Anger. Confusion. Trying to find your place in the world. All of these things seem to be the quintessential staples of what it means to be a teenager these days. But they are also the main points covered in Sacramento, Calif. experimental post-hardcore band A Lot Like Birds’ new full-length record Conversation Piece.
Not to say that these are bad topics for the sextuplet, when you give the songs a listen you can feel every single ounce of their emotions, whether it is for the better or worse. A play-through of the album is almost comparable to a roller coaster ride, taking off fast with the thrashy track “Orange Time Machines Care.” Going through ups and downs, ending with a feeling of disbelief and the desire to do it all over again in “What Didn’t Kill Me Just Got Stronger.”
The vast majority of tracks on the release change immensely from beginning to end. Initially, the songs tend to start off very high-energy, but then lead into a very smooth instrumental section, (ones that those of you who were a fan of their first album Plan B will love) then followed by a resounding symphony of what sounds like all of the members combating to be the one that is heard over everybody else.
A few tracks that really stuck out from the rest to me were “Sesame Street is No Place for Me” and “Tantrum.” “Tantrum” specifically is one of the most honest and emotional songs that I have heard in quite some time, in its seven minutes of glory, you can actually feel your mood shift more times than you can count on one hand. It features a beautiful, catchy chorus as well as a breakdown that makes me want to get up and move more than any metal/hardcore band ever has. There are points where the song makes you just want to cause physical pain to someone, and then the next second all that you want to do is sit in the corner and cry for days, (that could just be me, I don’t know).
The album as a whole is a completely refreshing experience. With all of the bands out today that just sound like re-hashes of re-hashes of each other, I can honestly say that I have never heard another sound similar to this. Conversation Piece is absolutely one of the best albums of 2011, in terms of creativity, style, and originality.
Just one word to truly describe this release: awesome. Simply, simply, awesome.
For fans of Dance Gavin Dance (sorry, had to say it), La Dispute, Isles & Glaciers, and good music.
-Review by Cole Paul