At this magazine, we embrace an artist’s evolution. When music evolves, it can become so much more than the sum of its parts. An artist we’ve known about since his first band in his teens, is Stephen Wells. It doesn’t feel like we’ve known him that long, but time can be a real bastard. After his former band called it quits, Wells went out on his own under the moniker Birthday Club. Their debut was four years ago, but the nineties Brit rock feels of the release reminded us that some artists are up for change, even as they’re figuring out their sound. With their new album Obscure Emotion out tomorrow, we find that not only has Birthday Club evolved but they’ve found their sound in the process as well.
The opening song “Obscure Emotion” reveals plenty of depth in its sound. With dreamy tones and airy vocals, the song plays out like a dream from napping in the midday. Steering from traditional psych but also evoking some of those structures, the track is full of gaze filled notes that sparkle in their arranged detail. However by the second song “It’s Not Enough,” Wells finds a way to take those textured notes and run them through a psych pop guise. The instrumentation has a grand notion in how involved it is, while the song graces seventies pop colors.
While “Taking Too Long” and “Circle Song” both evoke a mixture of swirling soundscapes, it’s the song “Out of Nowhere” that stands out. Incorporating a completely different take on the acoustic guitar, Birthday Club intertwines that with a real hazy electric guitar to create a new universe of sounds. At times it holds an almost Sgt. Pepper’s flow, it lends itself that way to lead into the following track “See You Around.” The song feels like breath on your ears, there’s an organic vibe here that Wells not only embraces but cultivates as well. The two tracks together help form a bond while standing out like a magnum opus of songwriting. By embracing a new technique and a different surrounding, Birthday Club finds themselves resting between the past and the present, where Obscure Emotion is the key to their future.
Obscure Emotion is available for preorder on 180 gram translucent vinyl, and limited to 300 pressings directly from Bandcamp ahead of its March 09 release. The album will be available to stream on all platforms or to purchase digitally in all online music retailers tomorrow. Birthday Club is on tour starting at Wonky Power Live in Houston, TX on March 07 before heading to SXSW ahead of an appearance at Rubber Gloves in Denton, TX on April 02. Their complete schedule can be accessed here.
Image Credits: Photo by Karo Cantu.