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# A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

White Birch - Come Up For Air

  by Emma Haigh

published: 23 / 12 / 2005

White Birch - Come Up For Air
Label: Glitterhouse Records
Format: CD


Hauntingly majestic and spectral orchestral pop on latest album from Norwegian three piece the White Birch

Every now and then, as the first strands of a first track ripple towards you, you sigh contentedly and think "At last." The gentle orchestral acrobatics and instrumental fluidity of 'Come Up For Air' by the White Birch play lithely amid vague hints of the Cure, the Gentle Waves, Joy Division, and the Magnetic Fields. Opening with the cool refrain of a piano, gently prodded by a casual drum beat, the seduction pawing of Ola Flottum's vocals slowly presses through, penetrating your brain like fingers through sand. The haunting charm of Flottum's voice eases into mediaeval delicacy in 'Storm-Broken Tree' wafting over a spring shower of keyboard, throbbing piano chords and barely audible acoustic strumming. The song befits its title, conjuring images of a forgotten forest glade, dabbled and green, while a certain tragedy pervades as an underground stream. Where 'Storm-Broken Tree' and 'Your Spain' spin myths of gossamer, 'The White Birds' epitomizes the process of waking put to sound. A slow, shuffling, sleepy-eyed love song about that unexpected bliss of waking into the low light of morning only to find you're lying next to the one you love, with no worries or hurries to contend with. Conversely 'The Astronaut' and 'New Kingdom' demonstrate a majestic sense of otherworldliness – of wanting peace, of fighting gravity, of knowing neither will really transpire. It's melancholy rather than pessimism, but a small spark of hope yields through either. Mid-way through the run of the album hides a twee little song with lilting melody and pretty lyrics. 'Silent Love' swims delicately in a sea of silent infatuation, a love song to someone who may never realise it's for her. This is perhaps the best example of the spectral qualities of the White Birch's instrumental and orchestral abilities: a small choir harmonises tenderly with Flottum's grave, wistful vocals, while the willowy hollow song of a mandolin is accompanied by subtle piano chords, a lowing trumpet, matching grace for grace the bashful yearning for the 'silent heart' to at last show. Barring the sometimes kitschy lyrical musings ("You're the clear winter sky/You're the ground./Cross my heart and hope to die/ there you are, so am I," – 'Seer Believer'), overlong pauses between songs(minor point, but bugged me tremendously) and the is-it-a-bath-filling-is-it-someone-peeing tinkly, watery noises at the start of 'The White Birds', this album exemplifies the elf-like decadence Scandinavian orchestral pop is known for.

Track Listing:-
1 Seer Believer
2 Storm-Broken Tree
3 Your Spain
4 The White Birds
5 Silent Love
6 June
7 Stand over Me
8 Small Hours
9 We Are Not the Ones
10 The Astronaut
11 New Kingdom

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