It’s nearly two years since I first saw Birdhead live, so the arrival of debut LP ‘Pleasure Centre’ seems to have been a long time coming. But its arrival this week (on vinyl and download on Gamma Proforma) proves that good things are worth waiting for.
For those unfamiliar with the band they are a 2 piece electro rock outfit from Edinburgh and, despite the lack of numbers, ‘Pleasure Centre’ has a reassuringly beefy sound.
For all that the basic instrumentation is guitar, keyboards and drums, the record still touches many bases. Lead single and lead track here ‘Tourist’ probably captures Birdhead at their best. The electronic backing is prominent and whilst the guitars crunch satisfyingly there’s still obvious melodies in the song.
That’s true of pretty much the whole record, although at times ‘Pleasure Centre’ relies on repetition to make its point, ‘Seamus Notdog’ and ‘Inertia’ being good cases in point where the keyboards provide a framework for the guitar to do splendid things.
And it’s probably the guitars that stand out the most on the record. They crunch (‘Silent Is The Crow’), they wail (‘Seamus Notdog’), they riff metallically (Drone Bone’) – in fact they pretty much do everything you’d want from a rock guitar, sometimes in the same tune (‘Trojan’).
You can also catch such diverse influences as early Simple Minds, on the entirely instrumental ‘Time Lag Accumulator’, and Jimi Hendrix (‘Inertia’). And that Scars influence that I’d picked up live is unmistakable on‘Trojan’ and occasionally elsewhere.
The only song that is something a disappointment for me is final tune ‘Belt’ which is workmanlike without the spark that pretty much every other tune on the record possesses.
‘Pleasure Centre’ is a towering beast of a record. There’s been so many good records this year, it’s getting ridiculous. But ‘Pleasure Centre’ is up there with the best of them. Seek it out.
Birdhead launch the album with a show at Sneaky Pete’s this coming Sunday (9th June). More info here.