Friday, 6 May 2011

Album Review: H Bird – Operation: Fascination

Released: 10th January
Label: Corporate Records

London based and apparently active on the indiepop scene for some years, H Bird's debut record Operation: Fascination dropped back in January to sadly little attention. Thankfully a couple of months is nothing when yr pop comes perfectly crafted and on this record there's songs that could turn out to be as timeless as those that inspired it.

There's no doubt that H Bird wear their influences on their sleeves. A love of Saint Etienne is more than apparent in the nonchalant vocals of Kate Dornan whilst the markings of early '90s Pulp comes across in the keyboard arrangements of multi-instrumentalist Aug Stone. Far from being mere pastiche or rehashes of the artpop of the 1990's however these are translated into perfect pocket sized pop songs that, over the course of Operation: Fascination fail to feel repetitive or dull in the slightest.

Down as much to the fact that no one is mining this set of influences right now, the structuring of the record is essential in ensuring this vitality. Split loosely into two halves, the front sees the upbeat electro-pop dominating, whilst 'side two' is the moments where we see a wider breadth of instruments slower tempos and more space. It also transpires that these sides are marked by the two best songs on the record, opener 'Violet' and H Bird's first single 'Pink Lights And Champagne' which although not telling the full story give the listener a fair idea of what to expect.

From the Pipettes like vocal harmonies and Dubstar sense of melancholy on '100 Days' to the drum machine patter that opens 'Danger Makers' there's a deftness of touch that adds an extra dimension to H Birds glamorous pop. 'Die Büchlein' is a perfect example of the more acoustic side to H Bird all the while complementing the more electronic side. The juxtaposition serving to showcase the crisp sound and exquisite production that ensures the record not only hangs together but elevates Operation: Fascination above most of it's contemporaries.

But if there is one criticism of Operation: Fascination it is that it's a record that you really must be in the mood for. The melodies that can make your heart soar whilst yr wondering lazily though a summer park or buzzing from the thrills of the night-time landscape can serve to press when listened to in such a dreary environment as the morning commute. But that's a minor quibble. This is a great free time record and in the right frame of mind or in the right surroundings nothing will sound or feel better in the world than Operation: Fascination.

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