BirdEatsBaby’s album made quite an impression on me. This maxi- EP is more of the same but better produced. They’ve drafted in Mark R Norris, who has credits with 80’s Matchbox B-Line Disaster, to give a richer sound. It’s probably as cheap as they could get a producer but it’s paid off in full. From something that sounded like the cast album of a talented Edinburgh Festival Fringe show, this is a professional mini-album. The band consists of vocals, chorus, piano, violin, drums, guitar and cello. It’s an arty ensemble belonging in a theatre pit.
The Devil So Charming is a cabaret song about the devilish attraction of a bad boy the singer knows will do her wrong in a dark alley somewhere. After a carefully-arranged acoustic section, it breaks into a big and beaty drum beat in waltz time. There is a flavour of Weill, of Tom Waits, of Lotte Lenya. This is dark cabaret that demands you sit up straight and pay attention. Or else. The Replacement is a threatening and jaunty little ditty about being replaced in someone’s affections.
The military tattoo of Enemies Like Me is full of menace and vitriol. It’s like The Tiger Lilies in many ways and that’s high praise in Vanguard Towers. This is archly theatrical, over-demonstrative and is probably sung with lead singer, Mishkin’s, leg up on a chair while she stares down everyone in the room. Gone! is nasty and threatening, rolling from tempo to tempo and throwing out cutting barbs. The closer, Rosary, slows down the pace and tells us how proud her parents were when she started to walk – “since then I just lay on the floor”.
This mini-album just screams out its difference, its attitude, its invention. Try it.