It starts off slow at first, but after a mere dozen seconds, it’s impossible to contain. The textures that adorn the opening bars of “Landlord of the Flies,” one of the staple songs on doubleVee’s new record Songs for Birds and Bats, are acrylic in stylization, physical in presentation, and rife with a tension-inducing tone that will bleed into the instrumentation they will usher into view. Songs for Birds and Bats sees doubleVee experimenting with their depth of songcraft like never before, and despite a few overambitious attempts at neo-psychedelia, it’s a solid 5-track release that will keep you on the edge of your seat from start to finish.
In “Ladder for the People,” the band doesn’t waste a stitch of time before assaulting us with a bassline the size of Broadway, and as fat and unwavering as it is in the master mix, a light peppering of percussion has no trouble navigating the rigidity in its design. The acoustic-based “Last Castaways” is a little swarthier compared to this song, but they both work surprisingly well together in this new set of tracks. doubleVee seem intent on pushing their sound into electropop territory here, and nine out of ten times, their intricately constructed hooks make the transition exceptionally well.
Even with the electronic facets in the music, I think that the band’s folk influences are still playing a prominent part in their songwriting style (and I’m not just talking about “Last Castaways” here). The record-opening “Map the Channels” has a tuneful vocal track as its primary centerpiece, and though the music is structured around a vortex of bass and treble in the master mix, the instrumentation is evenly layered and artfully arranged next to the lyrics. It’s an interesting hybridity of schools, but it doesn’t come off as fragmented as one might expect for being such a lofty experiment.
Songs for Birds and Bats enjoys some really smooth transitions between its five songs (save maybe for the rather clunky shift between the lush “Landlord of the Flies” and more stripped-down “Last Castaways”), but the rhythm is never recycled between tracks in an attempt at increasing the fluidity of the material. “Goldstar Redux” and “Ladder for the People” come to us as flexible and free of conservative restraint as two alternative rock songs can, and even if they had been arranged a little differently in the tracklist, I think that they would blend together just fine regardless.
doubleVee continue to surprise me with their intriguing fusion of styles and stunningly melodic poetry, and while I might have done a couple of things differently than they did from a production standpoint, Songs for Birds and Bats is a record that any true blue indie rock fan would be crazy to pass up on this spring. It’s got a lot of heart beneath its evocative layers of harmony and texture, and even taking into consideration its quirks, it has a lot more substance than most of the LPs that I’ve had the chance to review over the past few months have had.