Mimicking Birds - Layers of Us
Layers of Us
Folk and Indie bands have had a rough go of it in the past couple of years. The sound has faded from the vanguard and as these bands try to catch up their sound can often suffer. The biggest example of this was Mumford and Sons who seemed to be folk to their core suddenly shifted towards are more rock sound on their last album. Here on this third studio album from Mimicking Birds, the Portland based band try to blend in some electronic elements and bump up the distortion. It gives the record this half folk half shoegaze feel as the distortion buzzes and Nate Lacy sings with his haunting distant vocal. The one thing you notice straight off is how varied the production is; there are so many sounds going on here and so many elements being blended into a real spacey, yet unified sound. The first few tracks give you visions of Bright Light Social Hour, but not quite as jam bandy. The album really clicks into gear with "Sunlight Daze" which pushes the pace up a notch and allows Lacy's voice to take center stage. It seems like the eventual evolution of folk and indie bands leads to a psychedelic sound and Layers of Us is no different. Yet, Lacy's voice is so ethereal and so sweet that it seems work best when it's put through the folk prism. He can sing, and his voice works at times, but it doesn't always connect like you would want it. "Island Shore" goes all in on the trippy sounds with this bridge putting Lacy's vocal through all kinds of vocodoer and different effects including some buzzing flies at the end, but it just doesn't work. It sounds off and disjointed, like Mimicking Birds are trying to play a game they don't know the rules to.
"Great Wave" follows suit trying to create a song that is super different but never really engages into something bold. The banjo on "A Part" is actually a welcome addition because it mixes things up a bit and feels like a really comfortable sound for the band, it's the electronics that make them sound uneasy and like they are treading in unknown territory. The two tracks before the last, somewhat blend together creating this almost eight minute weird psychedelic exploration. It seems like the band are searching for something, a certain sound, but they never arrive and then just somewhat abandon the journey. This whole album feels like a lot of trail and error, playing around until they can find the sound they are hearing in their heads. It feels like this search comes to a head on the final track "One Eyed Jack" as the song has the right amount of bounce but also manages to encapsulate what the album has been building to this whole time. Layers of Us feels like a shift for Mimicking Birds, but it also seems like they have not fully bought in or decided where their music will take them. As a first step the record works, let's just hope the rest gets ironed out with time.
6.9 out of 10