We recently launched our Album, Kozmik Disko and its been fun sharing it out with you all, we have just received this amazing Review from Nick Hall from Plumhall and we are so happy. Have a read here...
Kozmik Disko review by Nick Hall
While I’d been aware of the Anglo/German, Huddersfield-based duo ‘Birds and Beasts’ (and heard only great things about them), it was only after my band were booked to play a doubleheader online concert with them during lockdown that I started to listen closely to their music.
And what fascinating music it is - a cornucopia of genres all thrown gleefully into the stylistic melting pot and glued together by a beautiful concept. All of their songs are inspired in some way by a creature from the natural world - a fabulous idea which hooked me immediately.
Both members, Anna and Leo, sing brilliantly and play keyboards and guitars. Anna’s main instrument is an expertly-played bass guitar and Leo’s electric guitar playing is effortlessly nifty - with a dizzying array of crunching riffs. Oh, and he plays violin as well!
However, the musical chops are always reined in just enough to form a perfect framework for the nine, sparkling songs on Kozmik Disko - their second album.
Violin and synths form a brooding intro to opening track ‘Wolfpack’ which establishes the winning twin vocal approach right from the off. The intro morphs into a thumping folk-rock song (imagine early 70’s Fairport Convention with a great keyboard player). The lyrics also introduce us to the album’s concept of anthropomorphic personification (get me!) as the couple narrate the song from the point of view of a pair of wolves. This makes the listener take an imaginative leap which immediately hooks them into the album.
‘Deep Down’ continues the minor key approach of the first track but throws an exotic, Latin-American feel into the mix with a powerful stomping rhythm and dramatic stops and starts. The music totally fits this tale of a scorpion searching the desert for its mate. The dynamics of the music and sophisticated, multi-instrumental backing are irresistible - as they leap from latin to disco in one song!
‘Keep Walking’ recalls Full House-era Fairport as viewed through a filter of dusty Americana. This song could have been written for these times, as the lyric describes a brave ant, infected by a disease, leaving his colony to avoid spreading the illness. A sobering moment on the record.
Older song - and live favourite - ‘The Bloat’ manages to make a pair of grumpy hippos funky, which is an achievement in its own right! How could anyone not love a lyric that states: ‘I’m in command of this pond, and I’m not too fond of your company!’? The musical references in the song’s settings are spot on - including a deliciously squelchy synth.
Twinkly synths and what sounds like a mellotron usher in the lovely ‘Hostile Shore’ - another brilliant track about an albatross on an epic journey home, which boasts a stunning guitar solo and contrasting tempos - both Birds and Beasts trademarks.
‘The Day I Was Born’ sounds like a single and is initially reminiscent of ‘St Julian’-era Julian Cope - with a glorious ‘on-the-one’ rhythm, which turns into a 70’s glam stomp. In the live arena, it would be impossible not to dance to this track, which tells the story of a bee impatiently waiting to meet his queen.
The band have clearly decided to arrange the album like a gig - a very good idea as the second half continues to get more and more danceable with the wonderful harmonies and pop rhythms of ‘The Current’. The bass and guitars riff off each other beautifully throughout. The track crackles with the electrical energy of its subject - an amorous shark!
Single ‘Dancemaster’ follows - a happily bonkers call and response duet. Julian Cope was once described as ‘the only person who can sing “ba ba ba ba....” and mean it’ - now we can add Birds and Beasts to this list! The synergy of the duo really comes to the fore during this song - ‘there’s only so much you can do without your wingman’ indeed. The lyric is about a pair of competitive male lance-tailed manakin birds dancing to impress a female. And it ends with an Irish jig! Of course it does!
Finally we have the second single from the album - the beautiful and haunting ‘Silver Moon Array’. This lovely, slower song sees Anna take the lead with a heartfelt vocal (shades of Julianne Regan of All About Eve here) with a timely lyric about a hedgehog waking from its burrow, only to realise that the countryside it expected to see has been replaced by concrete and buildings that had been built during its hibernation. This is so beautifully rendered in the clever animation video which accompanies the single.
It’s a gentle end to a high-energy record which demands and rewards repeat listens. The musicality and sheer musical bravery of this duo are to be applauded. I can heartily recommend you get dressed up to the nines and queue up to enter this Kozmik Disko as soon as you can. Make sure you check your coat in and get ready to dance. An early, and serious, contender for the best album of 2021.
If you would like to get your copy of Kozmik Disko, go to our shop online. https://www.birdsandbeasts.net/shop