” Fables of the Reconstruction
Melbourne’s Summon The Birds evoke a rich tapestry of musical tradition while still managing to sound modern and original. Their bio cites influences from progressive rock, post-rock and, well… rock. Having featured preceding single, ‘London Tap Water’ here we can attest to that. Our review drew comparisons with some of the most titanic acts past and present, namely Radiohead and Pink Floyd. It’s a good marker but it isn’t quite the whole story.
‘Funeral For a King’, which kicks off proceedings here, is the first time I‘ve really understood the band’s Spoon references (I get it now guys.) It’s a terrific track and great choice to open the record. There’s something almost cinematic about ‘Funeral For a King’. I think it’s that nagging bassline in conjunction with the sombre brass. Me, I conjure a fur-coated Pacino scurrying through Brooklyn alleyways. Of course this is a symptom of how my own mind works rather than the actual story behind the track. However frontman Jonathan Shaw is in a far better position to expand upon his work. Shaw is Summon The Birds’ raconteur and, as mentioned in previous reviews, his subject matter is more tale than song-lyric. Picture a bawdy troubadour propping up a tavern fireplace, recounting preposterous stories to a rapt audience of gullible drunkards. He is the quintessential unreliable narrator and his eccentric vignettes possibly won’t be to everybody’s tastes (if you’re looking for boy meets girl, try elsewhere), but they do give Summon The Birds their USP. As does Shaw’s waspish croak of a delivery. In the single review I may have suggested Shaw was-affecting some kind of Brit(pop) mockney, citing singers as diverse as Brett Anderson and Anthony Newley. Across Blood Love he’s far more varied. At times, Shaw brings to mind John Bramwell (I Am Kloot), which is never a bad thing. Other times (‘Journey To The Center Of The Earth’) I detect a top-note of Russell Brand (which is).
Progressive is the clearest and most obvious tent peg for Summon The Birds, both musically and because of the eclectic subject matter. Yet prog doesn’t pin them down. Aside from the singles, ‘The Anatomy Lesson’ is probably the most Floyd-like piece here. For the rest, Blood Love takes us genre-hopping and decade-spanning. ‘Cloud Cars’, which comes towards the end of the album, is quite lovely. The opening refrain puts me in mind of Go Betweens, but the piece itself heads off in a gentle Talk Talk direction. It’s probably the keys that do it, but I have to say the guitars on ‘Cloud Cars’ are really beautiful. The aforementioned and afore-reviewed (if that’s a word – it is now) ‘London Tap Water’ abruptly closes the album out. I think Blood Love’s slender running time (33 mins) feels even less so because of the variety displayed. They essentially leave us wanting more.
Which is a good thing.”