French Bird – Does the band name refer to a variety of feathered beast? Hailing from Dublin as they do, it seems an unlikely moniker. More credible is that the name refers to the female subject of the songs on this debut EP from the four-strong band. Indeed, these songs could well be about five different birds – it’s lovelorn stuff from the off, deeply indebted to an instantly recognisable Eighties sound.
A drum and feedback intro leads into We Too Remain and the template is set, with echo-y guitars and pseudo-goth angst. Unfortunately it all goes a bit Evanescence in the chorus, musically and lyrically – “It was you I heard calling/ In the sacred name above/ Lead her to an open wound/ Let her drink the blood”. The title track also builds on a feedback foundation under a driving bassline. With what has to be a wink to Placebo’s Nancy Boy dropped in there amidst the accusations, it’s so close to early U2 as to be pastiche.
A poppier Red Pencil is a more interesting prospect. While again derivative it’s quite an enjoyably upbeat, if inoffensive, love song in debt to The Cure. Showing more promise again is Insomnia, beginning with some nice interplay between the musicians before levelling off. It appears to be the unwitting tale of a man entrenched so deep in the friend zone Black Ops couldn’t get him out – “Well we can just sleep/ Or maybe you could talk to me/If you need more time/I’ll let you breathe”. There’s a serious bang of Snow Patrol to proceedings, with the general consensus being that she’s just not that into him.
Further angsty balladry follows with Bedrooms, carried by a nice drum pattern and simple ascending riffing, before the most interesting – if bizarre – track on this EP. Bedrooms Plus drops in with a bright Nintendo ping, a redux of opener We Too Remain done in dark and grimy 8-bit style. The drums and synths work well with a disengaged creepout-computerised vocal effect. It’s quite unlike anything else on the EP and as an experimental inclusion completely throws out previous conceptions of the band.
It’s an odd one this; after five tracks of standardised love lyricism and Eighties plundering the band flip things upside down with a sleazy electro oddity to send us on our way. It’s a head-scratcher, and a fascinating look at how the same song can be re-interpreted and take on a completely different hue. The French Bird EP may yet surprise us all by being a red herring.