Hailing from Portland, Oregon come Mimicking Birds. A five-piece set that started as the solo (read bedroom) project of Nate Lacy. Having won many praises for the debut and sophomore albums already, we’re keen to see if they can keep riding this success with new album, Layers of Us.
Upon listening to “Dust Layers”, the opening track of the album, there is one immediate impression the band leave. For every hipster band where each member is armed with an array of synths/keys, Mimicking Birds are what they aspire to.
“Dust Layers” is a complex tapestry of multiple lines of keyboards, subtle bass and finger-picked melodies from Nate Lacy (lead vocals/acoustic guitar) and Ian Luxton (lead guitar). It feels dreamy and light, floating us gently into the rest of the album. Taking the folksy finger-picking to the forefront of the track comes later in the album in “A Part”. The banjo-style lead cuts straight through the breathy vocals of the track and is underlined perfectly with brushed drums and minimal keyboard tones as opposed to overbearing samples and synths.
“Another Time” and “Sunlight Daze” follow on from the already gorgeous opening track on a slightly downwards drift. With a greater sense of urgency found in these two gaplessly linked tracks, the ambient synths are not gone, but they are underlined with a more staccato, rapid drum beat to punctuate the eerie, chilling melodies emanating from the synths and indeed from Nate Lacy himself.
Despite the band being classified under the massive umbrella term of ‘rock’, there’s little to tie them definitively to the genre other than some crossover instruments (but who doesn’t use a guitar and drums, ever?). The fuzz resounding softly from the bass and electric guitar in “Island Shore” gives some indication to the passing association with the genre. With keyboards sounding like the duelling between tide and shore, this track evokes a sense of isolation with Lacy’s surprisingly soulful voice blended with these complex instrumentals. There’s a bit of a blip in terms of an odd and slightly jarring distorted vocal line at the end, but it’s not enough to totally derail the track.
Moving further from rock again and showing the repertoire of this impressive set of musicians comes “Great Wave”. With a humming bassline and keyboard work that Deadmau5 would be proud to have engineered and spread thickly with reverb-laden vocals, Mimicking Birds show that you don’t need a ‘drop’ to take influence from EDM. Not that the track doesn’t speed up at all of course, the drums from Aaron Hanson thunder into life with a pounding bass and tom-driven rhythm about two-thirds in, catapulting us back to the lofty, airy tone of the opening track.
Belongings feels similar to “Great Wave” with the EDM style keyboard melodies; but retains the same instrumentals that truly show why the band’s local news source, The Portland Mercury, described as “ethereal, pensive, and austere—a calm, chilly night spent gazing at a clear, starry sky“.
The closest thing to a weak track on the album comes in the form of “Lumens”, a 6 minute folk odyssey that feels a little self-indulgent but honestly, at this point it just feels like they’ve earned it. The lilting indy folk song isn’t that engaging as it simply drifts along, ending with a 1 minute track that is gaplessly linked (possibly aptly named “Time To Waste”), but if self-indulgent is the worst that can be said for it, it’s a clear sign of the band’s quality.
As the album plumbs its lowest bass depths to bring us the final track, “One Eyed Jack” we are left with a resounding sense of progress and excellence from the band. Only on their third album, we are hopeful that there is more to come from this both eerie and excellent band. This album feels perfectly seasonal in the respect that an album with these chilling lyrics and cool keys, feels like winter. Sharp and refreshing when listened to now, and when they inevitably return to festivals, the tracks will remain cool and relaxing.
Why not come in and hear this fantastic album in the demo room of your local Richer Sounds today?
Author: Steve, Southgate store