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Radios and Flying Birds

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Album Review

On its debut album, Radios and Flying Birds, Shipbuilding Co. consists only of singer/songwriter/guitarist/keyboardist Michael Partington, a former member of Head of Femur, who wrote all the songs, sang them, and played all the instruments. In addition to isolating himself from other musicians, Partington also temporarily moved to Taiwan to separate further from outside influences. On his own (with his wife Maggie Pedersen, who helped with the lyrics, that is), he has created Beatlesque pop arrangements, often based on keyboard sounds, for his whimsical tunes. Partington heavily filters his voice and undermixes it, then sings in a disengaged high tenor, which tends to de-emphasize the words, though there are frequent references to historical events (notably in titles like "1939 World's Fair" and "1918 Was Our Year") and to a desire to move away to exotic places ("Easter Island Song," "Shanghai Maglev Train"). The album has charm, even if it sometimes seems unfocused. Now repatriated and living in Nebraska, Partington has organized a performing band as Shipbuilding Co., which may give the music a better realization in performance.

Radios and Flying Birds, Shipbuilding Co.
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