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some dusty
Some Dusty


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Thirty seconds into "Laugh" (the first song from Birdie's full-length debut), I posed myself this ludicrous question: can I justify liking Some Dusty already? Well, Deborah Wykes' vocals are nice and conventionally stronger than Sarah Cracknell's voice, and the peppy sounds of the Hammond organ bring to mind sixties girl groups and cool film-chicks who drink from good glasses. The great guitar work of Wykes' partner, Paul Kelly, does not come into play yet -- but outside irrelevancies do, such as Deborah going by Debsey, or the fact the band has great haircuts. In a pop band, particularly one from Europe, these things seem to give a popster some extra glow. And Debsey does have a nice smile; I think that's evident the first time she opens her mouth to sing. I like her teeth; how can I not like Birdie?

Some bands seem to radiate appeal long before they have a chance to demonstrate it, and Birdie was this type of band for me. Since I'd heard little from East Village (Paul's guitar-focused band), and zip from Dolly Mixture (Debsey's last group, whose song titles suggest enough: "Will He Kiss Me Tonight" and "How Come You're Such a Hit With the Boys?"), my impatience for Birdie's stateside release seems a bit absurd. Was it because the two sang backup for Saint Etienne, a band that -- aside from Good Humour -- has seemed more cool than entertaining? Or was it because Amelia Fletcher has hyped them considerably? Perhaps that's the case, but Amelia's fanatical about Pram, too. At any rate, Birdie were for me like Lawrence Heyward's Denim: a band I seemed ready to like, and destined to salute.

Happily, Birdie's best songs will be enjoyed by all for reasons that are solely musical. In "Dusty Morning" and "Folk Singer" they bring to mind a mellower Marine Research, or Saint Etienne during that fantastic Good Humour phase. Marc Jordan's trumpet playing lifts "Dusty Morning" far past the forests the song is walking your mind through, while there's an apparent harmonica section in "Folk Singer" that adds layers of charm to an already glorious pop gem. There's also Sean o'Hagan's impeccably arranged string section, which makes repeated listens of "A Lazy Day" seem like a day well spent. Paul's guitar parts, when they roar through "One Two Five" and "Thanks for the Birthday Card", get things simmering too.

As a whole, though, this album will best suit those odd kids on the Indiepop list (to whom I relate), or all those who never outgrew the stage in their lives when they wanted to be a pop star. A Birdie song doesn't always ascend to exciting heights -- "Linus" is dull, "Blue Dress" is far inferior to an Annie Gallup song of the same name and "Laugh"'s similarities to sixties girl groups seems far less retro than ripoff after a few listens -- but Birdie do seem to be living out the dream of people like me who want to perform, play, and hover near music that brings the pretty girls, with pretty glasses, near.

-- Theodore Defosse

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