wears the trousers magazine


little birdy: confetti (2009)
July 21, 2009, 11:29 am
Filed under: album, review, video | Tags: , , , ,

Read the rest of our Australia Week reviews here.

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Little Birdy
Confetti ••••
Eleven / Universal

Western Australia’s Little Birdy showed promise from the moment their self-titled debut EP surfaced in 2003. Fronted by the demure but feisty Katy Steele, sister of Luke Steele of The Sleepy Jackson (and now Empire Of The Sun), the Perth-based band first achieved mainstream success with 2004’s BigBigLove, which showcased their ability to write sweet, melodic pop-rock ditties with plenty of heart. Their second album, 2006’s Hollywood, was an altogether different affair, introducing a heavier synth-driven sound for the band that proved rather alienating for some of their earlier fans. Thankfully, Confetti sees Little Birdy return to what they are best at – this time with Steele in stronger voice than ever.

From the outset, Confetti is a classy affair. Opener and first single ‘Brother’, featuring guest vocals from Australian icon Paul Kelly, begins as a slow-paced acoustic ballad that builds into an emphatic, storming alt-country anthem – a song that Kelly would no doubt be proud to call his own. From there, the undeniably catchy second single ‘Summarize’ introduces a 1960s influence that permeates the rest of the record. The gorgeous ballad ‘Hairdo’ is a heartfelt ode to love based on inner beauty, and again flirts with a more country sound. The centerpiece, however, is undoubtedly ‘Into My Arms’ – not a cover of fellow Aussie Nick Cave’s famous ballad, but a swooning, heartbreaking song on which Steele’s powerhouse vocals are at their most haunting. Even when delivering the simplest of lines like “You miss me / I miss you the same as before / but I don’t love you / the same as before,” the vocal has an appealingly raw quality that makes Steele one of the most powerful voices in Australia today.

‘Run, Run, Run’ sees the band return to the steam-rolling brand of pub rock that dominated Hollywood, and while its presence here is a welcome break from the heartache, Steele doesn’t sound quite as convincing in this mode as she does elsewhere on the record. The swinging, piano-driven ‘Crazy’ continues to up the tempo before the charming ‘Everyone Is Sleeping’ once again introduces us to Steele at her most vulnerable. Indeed, this track probably would have made a more fitting end to the album than the title track, which seems not quite fully developed. Fans of the band’s Hollywood-era material may be disappointed by Confetti, but anyone who has a heart will no doubt be touched by the raw, honest emotion on display here. With the tracks all written by Steele, the album is a definitively more feminine affair than previous Little Birdy records – rich, diverse and unlike anything else coming out of Australia at the moment. It also gets more rewarding with each listen – surely an indication of its brilliance.

Dane Hodges
Available on import only; www.myspace.com/littlebirdy

The making of Confetti

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