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Birdpen - All Function One

  by Kimberly Bright

published: 5 / 5 / 2021

Birdpen - All Function One
Label: Jar Records
Format: CD


Haunting sixth album from Birdpen is a protest against technology’s stranglehold on our lives and society

Singer-songwriter, vocalist, and guitarist Dave Pen and guitarist/keyboardist Mike Bird formed the prog-inspired alt-rock duo Birdpen in Southampton in 2003. Pen is also the singer and guitarist for the post-rock electronic collective Archive. 'All Function One', written in early 2020, is the eerie title of the duo’s latest album, which is about how our lives are dominated by technology and how science fiction rapidly became reality. We have finally all been assimilated into the collective, functioning as one. It’s really a protest album against the takeover of technology and its control over every aspect of our lives and thoughts. The variations of electronica, psychedelia, folk music are theatrical enough to have once been chosen as a cinematic soundtrack to a dystopian film, only now the songs are describing everyday life. These developments didn’t happen overnight: worries about misinformation, fear mongering, and constant negativity were present on Birdpen’s 2018 album 'There’s Something Wrong with Everything'. And, of course, Orwell warned us about the Thought Police decades ago. Everything Everything have been writing songs about raw nerves, isolation, social anxiety, and paranoia for years, but with much more manic musical arrangements than Birdpen’s. The uneasiness about technology’s hold on us is the same that causes many rich tech executives to choose nature-based Waldorf education for their own offspring. 'All Function One' has an occasional reminder of Radiohead, fire-and-ice ‘80s synth pop, the Cure, U2, and once or twice The Jesus and Mary Chain. 'Modern Junk' is the album’s most pop song, protesting the commodification of literally everything, the dumbing down and homogenization of global culture, oversimplification of information, our short memory spans, and overall blandness of a perpetually plugged-in life. On 'Changes' a psychologically afflicted man has constructed a silver-lined room to filter out electricity, radio waves, WiFi, and radiation, much like Michael McKean’s character Chuck on 'Better Call Saul'. 'Invisible' is about actually seeing and listening to an individual in person rather than ignoring our surroundings and staring at a phone. Apocalyptic scenes are interspersed with organic reality and hopeful glimpses of nature: a full moon, sunlight, fire, a woman dancing. The song’s final song 'Undone' encourages us to take back our lives by unlearning and letting go of what we have been indoctrinated with. The message here is complex and thought-provoking, making the album well worth multiple listens.

Track Listing:-
1 Function
2 Life In Design
3 Modern Junk
4 Shakes
5 Seat 35
6 Blackhole
7 Flames
8 Otherside
9 Changes
10 Universe
11 Invisible
12 Undone

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