Album review: "Antibodies"
By Moira E. McLaughlin
Friday, August 10, 2012
Birthmark’s new release, “Antibodies,” begins with the ringing of a marimba that indicates from the get-go that this is no average indie album. Nate Kinsella of Joan of Arc is the force behind the music, combining traditional orchestral instruments with manipulated production and a sweet, emotive vocal. It all results in an album that is at once melodic and simple, dissonant and complex.
An arrangement of wind instruments that just as easily could be found in a Stravinsky composition interrupts the sparse instrumentation and minimal vocal line of “Stuck,” the album opener. The second track, “Shake Hands,” begins slowly, featuring a tapping noise and what sounds like tape being played backward. With the entrance of a string section, a memorable melody takes shape. “You Lighten Me Up” takes on a John Cage feel with wavering, sustaining tones in the background.
The lyrics play only a small part, but many lines pack a dark punch. “I’m stuck with the occasional suicidal thought,” Kinsella sings on “Stuck.”
Even with all the experimentation and textures, Kinsella maintains an arch for each song, creating a definite beginning, middle and end. The album, which never feels jarring or forced, is not only interesting but also lovely.