From the opening chords of 'Intro' and the first track proper, the piano-led 'Love Will Bring You Nothing' that romps through at least four movements over the course of its three-minute duration, it’s immediately and abundantly clear that Birdeatsbaby are a different kind of band. And so the curtains raise on what promises to be a lavish and thrilling production.
From quirky chamber pop to lusciously orchestrated baroque bombast, the songs are at once dramatic and extravagant. Presenting themselves as the sonic equivalent of a Tim Burton film and aligning themselves with Diamanda Galas and the goth-tinged sounds of Zola Jesus, the Brighton quartet don’t readily conform to any clear genre: their neoclassical orchestral-led mini-operas are simply too grand to be confined by something as self-limiting as genre.
Title track begins quietly and then bursts into a crescendo, while single 'Incitatus' is a veritable rollercoaster of dramatic peaks that at times is almost overwhelming. The album progresses to add layer upon layer sound on sound until it towers skywards. 'Double Nine' is a full-on belting show-tune performed with a cabaret-style archness . Obsession and loss provide the basis of the sweeping 'Anchor' and brooding pianos roll across the bulk of the tracks, strings soaking the rarefied atmosphere through which tension crackles and ideas explode faster than the flicker of a collapsing synapse. Vocal interplays and epic vistas sweep and soar here, there and everywhere to breathtaking effect. 'The Sailor's Wife' is perhaps the most conventional-sounding track, but even then there's a twist in the delivery that brings an edge to the atmosphere.
As much suited to the theatre stage as the gig-venue stage, this is extrovert music for introverts: flamboyant yet dark and touched by a hint of mania, 'Feast of Hammers' is an insanely ambitious work of high drama on a colossal scale. By the time the curtain falls on the surprisingly simple and reflective 'Finale'.
I expect they're a band that will be divisive, but that’s no bad thing. Better a powerful positive or negative reaction than none at all, and they're the type of band who will build themselves an extremely devoted following, and deservedly so, because there's a lot to like and the imaginative scope of the songs is undeniable. Besides, going this far from the norm takes a lot of bottle, and they do it brilliantly.