Label: Self-Released Release date: 30/05/09 Website: Bird Eats Baby Myspace Bird Eats Baby (BEB) sound original, look bizarre, would probably taste exuberant. ‘Here She Comes A-tumblin’, The Brighton quintet’s debut album arrived in a jiffy bag filled with, amongst other things, plenty of feathers and bits of red ribbon. I found myself very quickly absorbed into their shady, eccentric universe. ‘I Always Hang Myself With The Same Rope’ starts with grand pomp, swelling strings and thumping drums. The chorus keeps up the pace, and it’s when the bridge in the latter half of the track, the eponymous lyric sung over the ever-present string section, that BEB becomes a truly compelling force. Thereafter BEB prove to wield dynamics quite masterfully. Following song ‘Shiver Up The Spine’ is in turns sparse and mad, then dense and gothic, with lilting melodies infrequently raising the mood to wistful and gay. Thence, ‘Miserable’ makes the lyrical quality quickly evident with opening line: ‘Well it’s good to be a little open minded/to the way that other people see the world/but I can’t get by your obsession with leather/and the way you think it’s fun to hurt yourself.’ BED is comprised of Mishkin; lead vocalist and pianist, and is completed by bassist Garry, violinist and backup vocalist Keely, Philippa who is credited with Drums (as well as the artwork/photography) and Ella handling Cello. The lineup is a talented one, the instrumentation near faultless and the mood swings manic depressive. There are tracks that would benefit from being a little more concise, and others that would similarly be tightened by a little more minimalism, yet on the whole the track listing is accomplished and confident. As a self released album the production is competent, although upon first listen there are a few moments that seem a little abrasive, fewer still that remain so after a repeated listen; occasionally however there is a vitriol that will always be divisive. A sinister streak runs strongly through the entire LP, a tongue-in-cheek fascination with macabre shrieks of strings, snarled vocals and unconventional albeit maturely handled lyrical content. Refreshingly, BEB pull off being dramatic and wry without being tongue-in-cheek, or Queen-esque camp. It’s not often that a band or one of their albums conveys such a strong sense of personality, not contrived, just an unchained force of eccentric passion, and rarer still on a debut. What Birdeatsbaby accomplish with seeming ease, is a distinctly unhinged brand of burlesque freak-pop. Rating: 7.5/10 MP3: Birdeatsbaby - China Doll