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New Moods

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Album Review

During the six years between his second album, 2003’s Born Free Forever and his third, 2009’s New Moods, Bobby Birdman modeled, became a fixture of Los Angeles’ art, music, and fashion scenes, and released two EPs that moved his music in an electro-pop direction that became ubiquitous while he was working on other projects. Though New Moods’ songs certainly owe something to the Heart Caves and Giraffes & Jackals EPs’ synth pop, the album is more eclectic than that. Birdman reaches back to the more intimate sounds of Let Me In and Born Free Forever as well, bridging the different sides of his music in sometimes jarring but often appealing ways. While the opening track “Only for a While” is as bright and whimsical as anything off of Heart Caves, “Well Sprung”’s brooding and “Weighty Weight”’s drifting acoustic guitar loops play like more stylized updates on his earlier work. Even the gloriously poppy “Setting Sun” has a certain melancholy that echoes the music he made prior to Heart Caves. Birdman reunites that EP’s producer, YACHT’s Jonah Bechtolt (in turn, Birdman appeared on YACHT’s I Believe in You, Your Magic Is Real), on some of New Moods’ more dance-oriented tracks. Bechtolt provides the “booster beat” on the winningly spare “Dust-Design,” but funkier attempts like “Bloody Mess” feel a bit forced in comparison. Birdman is still in his element on deceptively simple pop songs that play like they were written by a less cynical Magnetic Fields and produced by the Neptunes. His retro croon is all the smoother when juxtaposed with “Victory at Sea”’s clattering rhythms, while the bouncing ball bassline on “You’d Be Surprised” adds some vintage charm to the rest of the song’s sleek machinery. Given that this is the first time Birdman has tried to put all of the kinds of music he makes together on one album, some of New Moods’ sonic and emotional swings seem scattered at first. After a few listens, though, the album reveals its ambitious charm, and fans of YACHT and other likeminded groups who aren’t familiar with Birdman’s work will find this a pleasant discovery.

Biography

Born: 2001 in Portland, OR

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s

An experimental indie folkie who later added electronic pop to his repertoire, Bobby Birdman is the alter ego of singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Rob Kieswetter. Originally from the Portland, OR area, Kieswetter began playing in the late ’90s with his first band Badical Turbo Radness, who released their first and only album To the Rescue in 1997. By the following year, the group had broken up and Kieswetter adopted the Bobby Birdman moniker, which was given to him by Little Wings' Kyle Field....
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New Moods, Bobby Birdman
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