Final rating: 7.4/10
Where did this wave of indie folk bands come from? Was it Arcade Fire or Modest Mouse that paved the way? Was it something that slowly came from way before then? Either way, we have had many bands try to jump onto the carriage as it rolled across the praries. Some bands have no leg to stand on here, but some bands have an idea of what to offer. The fresh faces in Birds of Bellwoods may be young as a band but they sound like they have had a sack full of ideas that have traveled with them for years. Just listen to the harmonics plucked in Sky and how they compliment the scenery. Yes, Birds of Bellwoods write indie folk to tell stories and not be a part of a niche. The Fifth EP is a pleasant and easy listen that is poppy in structure but smokey in texture.
Most of these songs on this bite sized release are personal connections that reach out to others. You get a variety of ways that these longing stories are told. Roll Your Stone is a leaky barrel that is spilling words quickly, and these words fall out faster still if your hand moves off of the crack at all. Come Home is different in nature because it belts out what it needs to say with the intent of having each word give a punch. The titular track The Fifth is a harmonized gang effort with rasp and a saw’s edge that almost sounds like a Jack White project vocally. The Fifth EP works as the voices of many musical narrators, and you are granted different avenues not just instrumentally.
On that topic, however, while every instrument is an ingredient to this stew, it is the see-sawing of the banjo and guitars that tell the most tales here. Listen to the crackling walls of flittering plucks you can hear on Grey Ghosts that work as a fragmented structure that is glued together by the rhythm section. What about the way the banjo picking works as the guitar strum’s highs in Come Home? Birds of Bellwoods already have a good sense of how to structure music instead of just playing it. The simple inclusions of string instruments is tasteful and not overly dramatic, too. Every decision feels like they were made to give the song a river’s flow, and the environments created feel so easy.
The Fifth EP is a delightful listen that focuses on connectivity and unionization. Lyrically and musically, it wills to feel love and to give love. It isn’t complicated by any means, but that’s kind of what makes it an EP worth checking out. Birds of Bellwoods will surely make some ground with this release because they can appeal to the radio crowd while giving us cynical folk a bit to talk about with their brush strokes being present but not blatantly so. The group may find it usefull to go even further into their themes, but The Fifth EP is a nice introduction of what the band can offer. It’s a pitch that may end in a pitcher of beer being passed around as you enjoy the togetherness of some warm, humble new friends.