Albums O’Month: Babybird – The Pleasures of Self Destruction
Published on November 23rd, 2011 | Jonny Abrams
The buzz: Cult hero Stephen Jones releases his eleventh album as Babybird, still known to many only as either the guy who did “You’re Gorgeous”, the guy who did “The F-Word” or the guy whose stuff Johnny Depp really likes. To an all-too-select few, he is the guy who would appear destined to be remembered for these reasons rather than for being one of the finest British pop songwriters of his age.
It sure beats being forgotten, but it still rankles at a time when X Factor hoists a different vacuous talent-vacuum on to our nation’s front pages each day.
Sounds like: A pop album sculpted with a high degree of artistry by a man to whom writing killer tunes has long been second nature. “The Jesus Stag Night Club” is a monster of an opener, a sort of halfway house between Nick Cave and Happy Mondays, “Beautiful Haze” could be a retained demo title so succinct a summary it provides of its wistfully sunny textures, while “The Best Day of Our Lives” is I Am Kloot-worthy in its majestic ruefulness.
There is intriguingly then a run of three consecutive songs – “I Love Her”, “Not Love” and “Can’t Love You Any More” – that share as well as their titular commonality an almost unnerving swing towards fluttery melodrama, justified at every turn with ingenious production and arrangement choices. “Don’t Wake Me” is loved-up in a more euphoric kind of way, like a blissful, airborne cross between Spiritualized and Soft Bulletin Flaming Lips, “I’m Not a Killer” sets a tangent with its thrilling blast of Bond theme brass, before “www.Song” belies its pretty tune with some rather creepy lyrical scene-setting (“He chats as he types/Wears a mask when he Skypes/Breaks into your house/Gets in through your mouse”).
“A Little More Each Day” picks up the ‘loved-up’ thread, doing so in such gently ornate fashion that it’s hard not to surrender to its charms, “Song for the Functioning Alcoholic” combines a, driving bittersweet melody with such suitably cross-wired imagery as “I’m crucified to a Christmas tree in the shopping mall”, and closing duo “The World is Ours” and “Remember Us” are sculpted from a more triumphant strand of the lush chamber pop displayed on “A Little More Each Day”, bringing the curtain down in such a fashion as to make one want to look upon the dark, biting winter upon us with a wry smile, a swirl of a brandy glass and a toast to everyone and everything that’s important in life.
In a few words: Adventurous, soulful soundscapes laid out in pop album form.
Kind of like a cross between: U2 – The Joshua Tree and Spiritualized – Let it Come Down.