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Upper Air - Dead Oceans
FILTER Grade: 84%

By Matthew Shaer on January 12, 2010



For an outfit with such an abbreviated resumé—one EP and one full-length recorded in 2007 for Raleigh’s Burlytime RecordsBowerbirds manage to sound peculiarly antique, like a cracked and furrowed 10-inch, wobbling around the turntable of some backcountry bar. On the band’s second album, Upper Air, singers Beth Tacular and Phil Moore approach moments of transcendence—the buoyant harmonies of “Teeth,” the ethereal thrum of “Ghost Life,” the big-hearted poetry of “House of Diamonds.” But the bulk of this album is familiarly and wonderfully muted. “Yes, you own the stars, you own the thunder,” Tacular instructs over the subdued jangle of Moore’s guitar, “but you have to share/You are free/You are already free.” Live, the Bowerbirds’ lyrical delicacy is often overrun by the wheeze of Tacular’s accordion. Here, every strain, key, and vocal is stirred up into a creaky, consonant, clearly-defined symphony.

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