Birdpen are back, and with them they bring their 3rd full-length studio album entitled In The Company of Imaginary Friends. With their debut being released back in 2009, the band have had time to progress their sound, and the new record is ambitious in form, melody and foreboding atmosphere.
Opening track Like A Mountain is there to help build you into the album. Its haunting vocals, set against the type of piano made famous by Coldplay, build into a track of wonder buy bewilderment. The sombre tones are backed up by ominous bass notes and harmonies, leaving you with a tantalizingly creepy and empty feeling; a hard thing to do whilst still making you enjoy the music, but is pulled off easily here.
Somewhere feels like an 80s ballad, but updated to appeal to the down and out of today’s harsh urban landscapes. In fact this feeling of uncomfortable runs deep throughout most of the record, and has rarely been released in such a unique way as it is on this album. Into The Black Light is testament to this, continuing with the dark bass and lows of the music, but setting this against high pitch vocals, creating a canopy of contrast when adding in a hypnotizing melody.
British influences run throughout the record, and no more so than on No Place Like Drone. The track brings something different to proceedings, focussing on a more digital sound, and backing this up with tales of dark wonder, even mentioning running to safety through a rabbit hole, giving a gentle nod to the wonderland of Alice. Add on top of this the Ian Brown style singing and vocals, along with a Radiohead vibe, and you can almost imagine all these English eccentrics sat around something resembling the mad hatters tea party.
Lost It’s cruel innocence is heart wrenching in its nature, managing to speak volumes without trying, whereas Lifeline’s running synths build to a strange entity of sound that finishes with a standard song structure to tie it altogether. It’s the little unique differences, whilst following the same general theme of being lost, which make songs like this work.
In The Company of Imaginary Friends is an album of fear and paranoia for the most, but also touches on hope and retribution. It’s and interesting record of great ideas, and Birdpen’s best work to date.