REVIEW: Black Birds of Paradise – “Terror Bird”

Black Birds of Paradise
Terror Bird
Gubbey Records

A little over two years ago, Black Birds of Paradise released their fantastic self-titled debut record, an album that featured a collection of fun, infectious psyche-pop songs that has remained in my personal rotation to this day. While the majority of tracks were pleasantly up beat and catchy, the band definitely teased their urge to weird the fuck out and showcase their experimental, progressive side. If their latest effort Terror Bird is any indication, Black Birds of Paradise have completely given in to their appetite for the unexpected, and because of that have made one hell of a pleasantly weird album.

Where the songs BBOP made before were mostly definable pop songs at their roots and largely driven by vocals, the noise presented on Terror Bird broadcasts a much deeper, cinematic experience that relies heavily on pulsating tension and carefully orchestrated progressions. “The Weather Channel” is a gloomy, yet hopeful instrumental that is reminiscent of early Tortoise and some of the vocal-less music from Vincent Gallo from the late 90’s/early 2000’s.  “Beyond the Closet Door” is a slow-building song that exudes a brooding sense of doom and despair.  I can’t say I ever expected to say that about a BBOP track, but the surprise is absolutely welcome considering that they pull it off so well.

Make no mistake, the pop element isn’t completely absent, but there is absolutely a much more ominous tone that lingers from song to song that wasn’t there previously.  The vibraphone is still ever-present remaining as the band’s secret weapon that really makes each song transcend into another stratosphere, and it’s nice to hear it being utilized in ways I wouldn’t have considered after getting so acquainted with their last album.  Upbeat songs like “Hold On” and the title track “Terror Bird” are evidence that BBOP haven’t completely abandoned the aesthetic they created on their last album, and while that’s all fine and good, I’m admittedly a bit more curious as I’m drawn to this newer, broader take they’ve recently conjured up.

I’m not sure if BBOP plan to further their exploration into the progressive, experimental spectrum of rock and roll, or if they’ll decide to return to their previous form.  Either way, I can easily say that I’m in for the ride.

Listen to the title track from Terror Bird below: