London-based ‘Funeral For Bird’ is back at it again with a brand new album that completely took me by surprise. After listening to the dream-pop style EP that was released before this, it is fair to say expectations were high. When first listening to the work of Joe Futak I was in awe of the creativity and talent that oozed from each track. With influences of folk and ambient squashed into one, I just felt like this was written for me in a sense; combining my two favourite genres is a good start. With that being said how did this sophomore effort fair?
The album kicks off with ‘Loves Gaze’ and immediately I found myself smiling. With each instrumental development and each note sang, I found myself enjoying the track more and more. It screamed ‘Badly Drawn Boy’ and from me that is high praise indeed. With the track progressing with the addition of synths and drums, I could see the album take life almost instantaneously.
What followed was the track ‘Watercolour’ which only further kept me enthused. With beautiful instrumental harmonies, pretty chord progressions and a really laid back beat accompanying the artist, images flew about my mind; this is what music is meant to do. It took me on a journey from section to section of the atypical structure and left me feeling completely satisfied at the end of it. Well not completely… Mostly due to me wanting to re-listen to the track once more immediately.
‘No Happy Memories’ followed with a ‘Send the Sages’ vibe to it. It varied things up a ton, stripping back the instrumentation and allowing for the progressions to flourish. Unfortunately there is no real hook here but there is a little acoustic twiddling and fun added post effects that again kept the aesthetics of my journey rolling.
‘Around Again’ followed with an almost R&B approach which left me a touch stumped in all honesty. Sure it carried on the dream-pop approach from previous outings and had some moments of textural significance, but it sort of interrupted the listing for me. There was a hook however this time which allowed for some lyrical content to really take the front seat which is always a nice switch-up. Experimental and understandable playlist choice but not sure whether it was entirely necessary.
‘Limit’ begins with a slow roads-style introduction accompanied with some vocal crooning that actually worked really well. I struggled with the diction of particular words however finding myself lost trying to understand what was being sang. When the rest of the instrumentation kicked in the track elevated for me returning to the established journey I mentioned before. The laid-back beat returned with some slow strumming and bass plucking which allowed for an atmosphere of melancholy to really grip hold of me. Around 2:30, when the added synths enter, I felt some real goosebumps rise; the track had me grasped, knocking me over the head with each bar.
Followed was an acoustic version of his original track ‘Visions’ which from an artists standpoint, I thought was very clever. It fit with the track listing and it allowed for one of his bigger tracks to gain some further attention. It was also sweet to hear some stripped back instrumentals again just to continue this sporadic approach to production.
‘Translucence’ followed and I must say it is a beautifully crafted interlude. It bounced from images of nature and tranquillity to areas of almost eeriness so subtly that it left me numb as the listener. When an interlude adds to an album, which is rare, you know it’s been done right.
‘Slight Return’ was the penultimate track on ‘Through The Dark’ and again I found it encapsulating. The introduction or rather, utilisation of brass I personally loved since it reminded me of the latest ‘Front Bottoms’ album which, if you didn’t already know, I have an immense guilty pleasure for. The vocal delivery felt a little lazy in parts which took away from certain phrases but I can overlook it as a stylistic choice that fits with what proceeded it.
The Bill Withers cover has got me caught in somewhat of a rut. Although it caps off the album well and gives a lasting impression of unknowing, I did find the production a little iffy in parts. It would of been nice to see some more pronounced instrumental collaborations just to thicken a climactic sound to let the listener feel complete after finishing the track. Having said that, the chorus is intriguing and interesting; I liked it stamp he put on the classic.
So all in all, a must-listen album. I was gobsmacked in the artistry and maturity on showcase here and am so excited to hear what comes next; the album is an experience to say the least. With a bigger budget and a bigger team around him to produce the next album, I could see it being his big break.
GAP Rating: 8/10 – With some stronger production presence, the album could potentially be an album of the year candidate.
IAP Rating: 9/10 – In my top 5 favourite independent albums of all time.