I have no explanation as to why but today was a rough mental health day for me. I was feeling frustrated and crabby over everything that happened today and started feeling pessimistic about the future of, well, everything. There’s no rhyme or reason. Life is good. I suppose it was just one of those days where I really just wanted to crawl back into bed and try again tomorrow. Sadly, with a day job, a million side hustles, and two cats that decided today was going to “diva-status” day, crawling into bed just isn’t an option. I picked the next best thing and have decided to dive into some new music. When I saw the title of The Messenger Birds’ October release, I knew I just had to spend some time with it.
“Play Dead (Just For Tonight)” is over six minutes long but I was completely captivated from the moment the first note hit my speakers. First off, let’s get this out there, The Messenger Birds are a duo. Pinch me. The amount of sound this opening track has feels like so much more than just a duo. The amount of swagger in this opening track is just as impressive. The repetitive nature of this track has me wondering if I’m being kept as arms-length from just what this band is all about so, as much as I enjoyed this opening track, I was super excited as there was a pause and “Phantom Limb” started to play.
Although a very distorted sound still reigns supreme in this second track, there’s also a very pop aspect that takes over. This blend of Queens of the Stone Age styled instrumentation with a very familiar sounding indie rock vocal (that I can’t quite place) is clearly that sound that I felt I was arm’s length away from during the first track. I’m not typically a fan of fuzzy and distorted instrumentation but, although that is a huge part of the sound, there’s so much more going on that I was distracted from it in the best way possible. The anthemic power of “Phantom Limb” was exactly what I needed to get out of my rut.
“What You Want To Hear” blasted through my speakers and hit me right at my core. From the lyrics to the swagger to the attitude, this is what I wanted to hear. This is what I needed. An instant favorite of mine, I felt a weight lift off my shoulders as I sit and listened through this track diligently taking in each word. Going into reviewing music tonight, I thought it was sad, slow songs that I needed but, really, it was just a little swagger and I continued getting that as “What You Want to Hear” was replaced by “Self Destruct”. The swagger on this song goes from standard swagger to something a bit dirtier. Another instant favorite, the emotion, and power behind this song is heard and felt loud and clear.
The tempo knocks up a couple of notches for “Honest Lies” but the swagger doesn’t shift. That’s a signature mark of The Messenger Birds that just can not be overlooked or mentioned too many times. My head was instantly nodding along to the infectious beat while I tried to catch as many words as I could without being distracted by the easily anthemic feeling of this track. The quick shift into “No Pardon” validated my thoughts- The Messenger Birds has a sound that is made for an arena. Having seen The Black Keys play an arena before, I know that band with this much swagger can absolutely pull off an arena show but, being that The Messenger Birds have far more energy in their music than The Black Keys (no offense- I’m a big Black Keys fan!), I am anxiously awaiting the day I can see these guys tear down an arena like I know they can.
“Everything Has To Fall Apart Eventually” continues with the distinct sound that only The Messenger Birds can pull off. I listen to a lot of bands and always mention how it impresses me when songs on one album have very different styles and sound yet always clearly come from one act. This band takes that one step further– the songs are all very alike yet somehow different. I’m not quite sure how else to articulate that other than this band has such a strong sound that there’s no bending from it but also nothing else that mimics it. The Messenger Birds are off in their own little world and it’s a world that I will gladly get lost in multiple times in the future.
And, of course, after finishing that sentence, the album moves on and the sound completely changes into something completely different than the previous songs yet something so painfully beautiful. Things finally slow down for “When You’ve Had Enough” and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have a minor breakdown on my first listen. The lyrics, the ambiance, the mood, the swagger (still there, but in a different form)– it was the song I wanted to hear but affected me so hard that I had to pause the album afterward just to catch my breath and calm back down. What a beautiful track that will definitely be in my back pocket for moments where I’m feeling overwhelmed.
“Start Again” splits the difference between the sulky swagger herd throughout this track and the beauty heard in “When You’ve Had Enough”. It’s a short ending but it’s a perfect one. The band doesn’t drag on the goodbye, more just give you one final taste before leaving you in silence. Pure magic.
I thought I wanted slow sad songs tonight to compliment my mood. I got songs full of attitude and swagger that had me holding my head higher than I had all day (other than that slight breakdown during “When You’ve Had Enough”). I couldn’t have asked for anything more or anything better.
My Favorite Track(s): “What You Want to Hear”; “Self Destruct”; “When You’ve Had Enough”
For Fans Of: Swagger; Sludgey instrumentations; Retro tendencies
Daydream-ability: 6 out of 10
What My Cats Thought Of It: Both cats slept upstairs
How Badly I Want To See This Performed Live: 9 out of 10
My Overall Rating: 8.5 out of 10
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