- Audio CD (25 Feb. 2013)
- Number of Discs: 1
- Label: Oak Ten Records
- ASIN: B009GPGFJU
- Other Editions: Audio CD | Vinyl | MP3 Download
- Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 17,947 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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In this frantic Twitterworld, where all the genres of music are either mating with other genres, feeding on the past or searching for the next trending wave, Keaton Henson personifies the moment when time stops still.
It’s the almost shocking sound of one man and his gently stoked electric guitar, which flicks like the embers of a fire, as the singer’s voice glows in the reflected light, safe in his panic room.
Crippled by anxiety since childhood, to the point that he rarely goes out or plays live, the wondrously bearded Keaton is the archetypal tortured recluse who channels his emotions not into shopping or clubbing but his art: he’s a skilled illustrator too, of bare-boned drawings that are as starkly delineated as his guitar-playing.
Birthdays follows 2012’s cult debut album Dear..., and for its first half, Henson avoids slipping into post-dubstep, chillwave or hiring Skrillex in order to fit in.
But there is change underfoot. Dear… featured one drum track, so the subtle beat behind The Best Today is no biggie. But half way through the following Don’t Swim, it’s like an ember has landed in your lap.
The song’s sudden electrical charge, which persists through the following, thunderous Kronos, is the sound of Henson wrenched from his comfort zone. Birthdays’ second track suggests he’s even reached Paris.
In fact, the whole album was recorded in California by American producer Joe Chiccarelli (The Shins, The Strokes). And various guests, including Jesca Hoop on ghostly backing vocals, have chipped in.
Birthdays’ second half takes Heaton closer to Jeff Buckley’s turf: the unforced vibrato, the goosepimply effect and romantic hunger. But it’s a subtle shift, and the instrumentation only partially reconfigures the secluded spell.
Beekeeper’s occasional bouts of rock doesn’t drown out the soft peals of banjo, while the swell of French horns, martial drum and Henson’s fluttering voice in Sweetheart, What Have You Done to Us sounds like he’s still in his bedroom.
Up there, warmed by the fire, he’s cloistered away from Twitter and all the other evils of this parish. There’s no better way to shut out the din than by putting this record on.
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Top Customer Reviews
Early on the sound is eerily similar to the first album. Electric Guitar, that voice and not much else on Teach Me and the beautiful 10AM, Gare Du Nord. In fact it comes as a total shock when listening to The Best Today that the delicate approach is enhanced by drums and more noise. It feels that the man himself wants to try and mix things up and Don't Swim follows this and does the job. Starting in the usual mode of vocal and guitar Henson then decides to throw in a loud and brash guitar and drums instrumental piece towards the end of the track. It sounds like something almost Post Rock like. Its a wonderful addition.
Kronos then swaggers into view and could be on any rock album, snarling riffs and loud quiet approach this could be grunge music. Or maybe something Jeff Buckley, Elliott Smith or similar company would consider too brash for their albums when they were making them. The Beekeeper has Banjo, drums and keyboards and sounds a little like some Fleetwood Mac tracks in its composition and chorus - think mid 70's country influenced Fleetwood Mac here though. Gradually though the noise and mood recedes and whilst Sweetheart, What Have You Done To Us has a return to the more introspective approach before horns take over. The deluxe edition contains three extra tracks, two quite quiet and the rather fantastic If I Don't Have To which is another of the new approach numbers.Read more ›
I'm not sure of the benefit of the gatefold sleeve as I have limited space and it's not the most amazing artwork I have ever seen
I still quite enjoyed the sort of wailing whooshing whining music, and the more angry side two
Happy I bought it and will download the mp3 freebie for my pod rather than recording the record
Have a listen you won't regret it.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
If you like melancholy lyrics and melody then you will not be disappointed.
Album reflects on human relationships at their most intricate.
Haunting and beautiful and he never fails to stir my dark soulPublished 10 months ago by Miss C J Wilkinson
Excellent album and arrived in tip top condition in super quick time. Would highly recommend.Published 17 months ago by Jan Makin
I came across one of the songs on this album on YouTube and I enjoyed it so much I decided to buy the album. It didn't let me down! Track 3 especially was replayed many times.Published 22 months ago by BigDave