Sunday, 26 June 2011

The Wind Up Birds - Meet Me At The Depot Review

The Wind Up Birds
Meet Me At The Depot / Popman

Sturdy Records

Riding on a mass of public declarations of love from obscure corners of the internet and Mr Steve Lamacq, this is the third release by the Leeds based band.

Postpunk is the basic touchstone here; this sounds like the music being made in that row of rusting garages in the background of the Joy Division poster on my wall (circa 1979). Due to the frontman’s vocal stylings, The Fall are often the chosen point of reference for TWB. Certainly the subject of ‘Popman’ seems to play that knowing outsider role: ‘I always fancied being a Popman – What?’ but musically the whole thing is a lot more muscular than The Fall ever were, sitting closer to bands like The Buzzcocks.

Which kind of misses the point. All the musical reference points hark back to the late 70’s but this isn’t the work of a backwards looking band. Rather, that era of direct, in your face politicising is simple the most effective for The Wind Up Birds to deliver their message. Like the Manics considered being a Rap act (for about 2 minutes) because at the time Public Enemy were hitting their targets harder than anyone else, the medium by which The Wind Up Birds attack is secondary to the message itself.

In terms of progression from their previous work, it bares closest resemblance to their first single ‘Tyre Fire’ in it’s melodic backing vocals and its retreat to a chorus hook (of kinds) in the almost sweet ‘this is what the angles say’. It doesn’t quite have the aggression I enjoyed on the likes of ‘Good Shop Shut’ or ‘Some Slum Clearances’ and to be fair they are trying something very difficult; intelligent, politicised snapshots of modern life. When that is your aim, the single is your AK47; each one needs to be a red hot, perfectly honed piece of ruinous bile and with Meet Me At The Depot I’m struggling to find that nugget of truth, that life changing quote, that head spinning moment. But its only fault is the weight of expectation.

This is a good single, it’s a good thing and I like it, but I’m finding this particular record hard to LOVE and The Wind Up Birds, like the aforementioned Manics and Fall are the kind of band people WILL love… or show no interest. I recommend you all give The Wind Up Birds a listen because they might be the band you have been searching for your whole life. Whether this is the record of theirs I would hand you is another matter. Instead, it feels like Meet Me At The Depot is part of an ongoing story, a patchwork of WUB tracks, much like The Fall spent years building a catalogue of minor triumphs. So it’s good, but not their best.

Dean Freeman

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