Bird Names, 'Open Relationship' (Unsound)

5
Open Relationship
Critical Mass
Label: Unsound

by Abby Everdell

On this manic quintet's fourth album, they pile layers of instruments and voices into carnival waltzes and off-kilter sing-alongs like they want to be Chicago's answer to Os Mutantes. The ingenuous, carefully composed refrains of "Regretting Our Fathers" and "New Life" display the band's gift for unaffected hookiness. But too often their thin recordings can't handle the sonic overload, resulting in a mushy din ("Masters of Enjoyment"). Ultimately, Bird Names' lo-fi thumbprint becomes their undoing, leaving you wishing they'd take their songwriting as seriously as their experimentation.

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