The Bird brothers’ new mini-album Undercover Crops is a bit like being slapped round the face by someone with a smidge of LSD under their nails. It’s abrasive, loud, perverse, but also kind of fun. Tweak Bird are doing exactly what caught our attention on their eponymous 2010 album, that is to say, making their music big, heavy, and not a little ridiculous. The psychedelia of the Seventies influence has only been heightened, and comparisons to the likes of Black Sabbath are as accurate as ever. It’s like being a teenager again – unless you’re a teenager now, in which case this has got your name on it. Never has a rock band taken themselves less seriously since the heyday of The Darkness.
Don’t be put off by the first track ‘Moans’. It’s not to be listened to too early in the morning. Or too late at night, come to think of it. It’s a giant step away from the TB norm and into a more uncomfortable electronic world where - as we’re told 48 times in close succession - “Everyone is paranoid”. Gets in your head, that does.
But that over and done with, it’s back to the Tweak Bird staple: a whole lot of heavy thrashing around beneath the dual vocals. It’s got back pockets full of energy and a relentless drive. From the anthemic ‘People’ through to the percussively complex ‘Weight’, these guys aren’t scared of getting the most out of their instruments. But it’s certainly not the thinking man’s EP. The lyrics rely on repetition for effect and most of the songs, despite subtle differences you can choose to hear if you want to, are belted out to the tune of a very similar vibe.
There’s a one-track exception, which carries its own distinctive voice. ‘Pigeons’ gives you a moment to breath. In fact, it gives you three whole minutes to breath, which is a considerable amount as far as Undercover Crops is concerned. It shows a gentler, more thoughtful side whilst we all take a moment. But come on, surely that’s what the likes of Two Gallants is for. The Bird duo are in their element only when the cymbals are outshouting the riffs with a topping of singalong poppy vocals. And the final two tracks mark a return to form; a guitar that crackles and crunches, smashed up drumming, distortion to fuzz the whole lot up a bit. ‘Bunch O’ Brains’ makes you want to throw yourself into a crowd of people and flail about a bit, and the closing track ‘Know It All’ doesn’t let up either. For a long weekend’s recording session, this is no work of musical genius, but it’s about as much fun as you can hope to get out of two men and a recording studio.
7Ruth Singleton's Score