Sweet and Mellow
Bomb in a Birdcage is another dreamy pop album from Alison Sudol, the young singer-songwriter otherwise known as A Fine Frenzy. The Los Angeles-based songstress released her sophomore disc as a followup to her successful 2007 debut One Cell in the Sea. It’s full of warm acoustic melodies and Sudol’s honeyed vocals—pretty pop with an edge.
“What I Wouldn’t Do” is a nostalgic folk romp, unrolling amid whistles and clapping to a sugar-sweet acoustic guitar. It’s the kind of song A Fine Frenzy has perfected: charming and poppy, similar to Feist’s material. Yet Sudol is more than just a pleasant voice. Her lyrics have a simple poetry to them; the seasons flow past to the melodies of birdsongs, evoking the simple everyday world (check out the dreamy “Swan Song”).
And for the metaphorical bomb in the birdcage, Sudol experiments with danceable tunes and atmospheric effects. Whether it’s spunky vocals and upbeat percussion on “Electric Twist” or the spacey echoing guitars on “Elements,” the album takes sidesteps between songs, varying its sound just enough to escape monotony. “Stood Up” leans toward the anthemic—it’s more electric than the rest of the album, but somewhere between the choruses and bridges it gets lost in its own sound.
It still feels like the folk song is where A Fine Frenzy’s true beauty comes out. On “Bird of the Summer” an almost literary lyricism complements rich piano melodies and trilling flutes, returning thematically to the album’s first track. “The Beacon,” a slow piano ballad, has subtle hints of blues and gospel, suggested in a few fluttering blue notes and gentle horns. Overall, Bomb in a Birdcage doesn’t take many risks, but it’s a pleasant listen, and maybe a sign of new directions to come.