Sunday, 11 November 2012

Flynndie Reviews: #33 The Birthday Suit - A Conversation Well Rehearsed

Written 10th November 2012:

The Birthday Suit – A Conversation Well Rehearsed

The Band: Rod Jones (vocals/guitar), Jacqueline Irvine (keys/vocals), Steve Morrison (Drums), David Jack (bass), Sean McLaughin (guitar), Catrin Pryce Jones (Violin)

So today’s review comes from a Scottish Indie band I’ve been getting into a lot recently, The Birthday Suit. Hailing from Edinburgh the band are fronted by Rod Jones (also known well as the lead guitarist of Scottish Indie Rock band Idlewild) and are returning with this their follow-up to their 2011 debut album, ‘The Eleventh Hour’ and today’s review subject ‘A Conversation Well Rehearsed’. So let’s get straight into this review and see what type of sound the band captures on this record here.


1. Uh-Huh Uh-Huh
2. You Hear the Drums
3. Out of this World
4. You Deserve so Much Better
5. A Can of Worms
6. Wait for the River
7. Less Worthless Years
8. Ten Years Past
9. Bad Dreams
10. My Gang
11. Talk to Yourself

Starting with a series of Holy-sounding ‘Ahhh-Ahhh’s’, opening track, the unusual but delightfully titled ‘Uh-Huh, Uh-Huh’ sets of an early, rocky pace for the record with a fast, menacing guitar riff backed with urgent bass and drums. The rollercoaster nature of the main riff is interspersed with the boldly stated line “I Don’t Think So”, before a quick silent pause then followed by the chorus still maintaining the fast early pace set by the song with the ‘Uh-Huh, Uh-Huh’ of the track’s title thrown in its middle. Overall the track sets up the album nicely. ‘You Hear the Drums’ still has a brisk pace about but here we have a much more serene, melodic track by the band with backing keyboards and violin in full effect accompanying the track throughout. It’s also the first time on the album we hear Jacqueline’s backing vocals complement Rod’s voice and lyrics, which in my opinion creates a sound that really helps create a nice distinct identity for the band. It’s certainly a charming track, after the raucous paced opener. The charm continues with ‘Out of this World’, another delightful guitar track, again laced with the beautiful fiddle of Catrin’s violin throughout, while the chorus builds-up in tempo slightly more as Rod’s poginient lyrics suggest of moving on from a troubled relationship “All that you wasted on stating the obvious/Left us with everything we ever wanted/And all that time you spent on calling the same names/Gave us directions to find our way out of this World”.

‘You Deserve so Much Better’ initially opens as the most low-fi track on the album so far, with a nice, gentle repeated guitar riff steadily steering the track before we see the energy and tempo of the band explode in unison with the cryptic, fast paced chorus “You Deserve so much better/But you’re not the only one/You always want what you can’t have/You’re a Twentieth Century son”, the track is drawn to a lone piano peacefully closing it. ‘A Can of Worms’ is anything but peaceful; with another deliciously dark, menacing guitar riff at the heart of the track while Jack’s bass and Steve’s percussion provide the up-tempo pulse to it. Featuring another rocky chorus “You’ve opened up a can of worms/It’s no longer on your terms”, a guitar solo and even a violin solo, this an urgent but cleverly built, complex track and all the better for it in my view. ‘Wait for the River’ is a piano-driven ballad mid-way through the record, soft and delicate it again highlights the charm the band seem to have a great knack for capturing on this record. It’s certainly a beautiful track and one that feels right as the long winter nights draw in at this time of the year.

• The Birthday Suit live at The Camden Barfly this past October

Previously available as a download ‘Less Worthless Year’s’ is one of the more jolly, upbeat tracks on the album. A fast paced romp of a track, the verses see vocals from both Rod and Jacqueline sung at quick pace before a series of “Der-Dum-Dum’s” through the track, it’s a catchy track and you can judge for yourself from the YouTube link below. ‘Ten Years Past’ is another more up-tempo guitar track, steadily building initially before a short guitar solo, the track then finds full gear after this with its “Leaving me calling\Leaving me calling\Just leave me alone” providing an urgency while guitars from Rod and Sean duel it out in style here. It’s another decent track and although while I’ve been trying to avoid any comparisons in this review, this track really does have a feel of the style of an Idlewild track from their more recent albums, which is always a good thing in my opinion. Backed with a somewhat military percussion rhythm ‘Bad Dreams’ follows and is a short, sharp, punchy song with a repeated high-pitched riff layered through it “I don’t need your eyes looking down on me\The bad dreams satisfied of a memory” before the second half of the track features a nice keyboard solo with backing guitar, it’s another instant track but with an underlying intensity to it.

Penultimate track ‘My Gang’ lightens the sound of the record with another instant catchy guitar hook and melody as the lyrics through the track unfold a tale of an individual being caught up in ‘gang’s’ as such initially portraying an antagonists feeling down on their luck, while reflecting during the chorus “My gang is better than your gang/An argument of your design”, while the second half on the track unfolds the individual comes to the conclusion that they are better off with their own company “My gang is better than your gang/An argument of my design”. Closing track ‘Talk to Yourself’ opens initially with low-fi jangly guitar and an opening lyric featuring the album title “Talk to yourself/It’s a conversation well-rehearsed/A better way for you to say”, before the track finds it’s full backing from the band and then returning back to the initial jangly guitar, while the second half of the track sees gentle violin and keys backing. It’s another charming, pleasant song to close the album with and these last two tracks on the album for me have a little touch of The Smiths in their style and sound which is high praise indeed.

I’ve been very much enjoying this record in the recent few weeks I’ve been listening to it. It has a good blend of some fun, fast-paced Indie rock tracks ‘Uh-Huh Uh-Huh’ and ‘Can of Worms’, to the more serene, melodic ‘You Hear the Drums’, ‘Out of this World’ and ‘Wait for the River’, but also with some Indie Pop in ‘Less Worthless Years’. The album captures a great range of tracks all in under 35 minutes which is a fair reflection on the talented musicians that form the band. I found that while listening to this record that a lot of the tracks were easily accessible and very instant while Rod’s poignant lyrics really give them some much added depth; for me there is a little more going on than first meets the eye with this record. It’s been on repeat plenty for me recently and I’m going to give the record 8 Cans of Worms out of 10 as it’s an album I can still see me listening to plenty still in the future. The album receives a general release on the 3rd December (see the band’s website below for details) and I would personally recommend to check The Birthday Suit out sometime as they craft some excellent, catchy yet thoughtful Indie tracks.

Still Rehearsing Conversations

Track 7 ‘Less Worthless Years’

Band website:

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