'Amends' by Active Bird Community, album review by Northern Transmissions

Barsuk Records


Active Bird Community


‘Amends’, the fourth LP by Active Bird Community, is the outfit “dwelling on the intricacies of relationships, broken bonds between friends, family and lovers – and hoping to heal”. With three records already under their
belt at the age of 24, ‘Amends’ is bestowed with a maturity, both thematically and sonically, that befits a unit double the age of the Brooklyn quartet.

Musically, ‘Amends’ is a difficult album to pin down to a general sonic thread, even when it slips into more
common guitar-driven realms you wouldn’t necessarily tag it as indie rock, nor full-fledged pop-punk either.
Whilst this is appealing in some respects, given the variety of sounds on offer, at times it feels like the album lacks a true identity. The deployment of rich horns on ‘Baby It’s You’ gives ABC’s new effort an interesting and unexpected dynamic, whilst the slow-burning lament of ‘Downstairs’ is something of a dirge. However, the delicate swoon of ‘Blame’ exposes a fleshy openness via the deployment of subtle strings, adding a nice touch to ‘Amends’ broad aural palette.

Another aspect to the LP that’s hard to look past is that vocally, Tom D’Agustino’s style can veer somewhere
between whiney or drone-heavy, making for a grating listen at times; closing track ‘Lighthouse’ struggles when
it’s just a voice and acoustic guitar, and the title track’s quieter moments have the same pitfall. That said,
when the frontman’s vocal adopts gravelled tones – think Brian Fallon of Gaslight Anthem fame – tracks soar,
like on the urgent, rough ‘n’ ready ‘Sweaty Lake’ or the latter part of ‘Silver Screen’, once the song reaches its pounding crescendo.

‘Amends’ is a difficult album to grasp hold of – whilst you have to applaud Active Bird Community’s ambitions
to create something that pushes the boundaries of indie-rock while at the same time exposing their own
vulnerabilities; ultimately it’s an album that doesn’t quite click.

Amends by Active Bird Community, Comes out on September 14th via Barsuk Records.


Words and thoughts of Adam Williams