Review Summary: Shedding their post-hardcore skin, HRVRD embraces their indie-rock and progressive tendencies to create a truly brilliant sophomore record
It probably comes as a surprise to many that the band formally known as Harvard has actually been around for nine years. With only two completed full lengths through this young 2013, HRVRD has not released nearly enough music to appease their ever growing fanbase. 2009’s The Inevitable and I, while not altogether groundbreaking, was meet with much critical acclaim, a fact not overlooked by the band. So with the obvious pressure bestowed upon this young (in terms of musical output) band, it would have been completely understandable if their second release was more or less a carbon copy of their first offering. Thankfully that did not happen, as on HRVRD’s second full length release From the Bird’s Cage
listeners are treated to a uniquely beautiful work of art rather than The Inevitable and I Pt. II.
Inevitably this release will be compared to the likes of Circa Survive or other progressive giants, but From the Bird’s Cage is so much more than that. This release is an album Anthony Green wishes he could create. With their second release, HRVRD have decided to focus more on visceral soundscapes and haunting melodies, with tremendous results. The soothing and young vocals of Jessie Clasen are the focal point, and deservedly so. With lyrics that drive and melodies that sooth, it is obvious that Clasen and company have really hit their stride on this release. Whether it be the trombone present on the chilling outro of Kids With Fake Guns
or the stunningly beautiful piano found through the entire album closer Eva Brucke
, nothing ever seems out of place, as every song flows seamlessly into the next. This sense of cohesion is truly surprising, especially for a band who has only released two full length albums.
Where The Inevitable and I lost credibility through a general lack of refinement and overabundance of ideas, From the Bird’s Cage at no point drags on and at no point leads listeners to start questioning the creative control. Cut down to only 10 tracks, with no song reaching the six minute mark it seems HRVRD have managed to trim the fat , and focus on creating songs that hold attention throughout. But that is not to say that throughout this release ideas are underdeveloped. The immense variety of instrumentation and varied song structures in every track can attest to this. Album highlight Cardboard Houses
best exemplifies this, as the song starts off with acoustic guitar and ends with a sailing tremolo section with beautiful vocals, perfectly placed keys/piano, and driving drums between. With biting lyrics coupled with all that is mentioned previously, this song serves as perfect indicator of HRVRD’s new sonic approach.
Focusing more on the flow of the record than individual songs, From the Bird’s Cage manages to create a record worth much more than a mere casual listen. For a band that has released less than 25 songs HRVRD has matured beyond their contemporaries and released a record that should set the standards for releases this year. With exclusively ‘downtempo’ songs From the Bird's Cage is a moody affair through the entire 10 tracks and, if given a close enough listen, will hopefully challenge the listener to remember why they listen to music in the first place.
Call for the blood of your leaders, cardboard homes for your people