Brooklyn-based band Active Bird Community wrestles with forgiveness in the shattered relationships between friends, family, and lovers on their new record, Amends. With the anticipation to rectify these wrecked affairs, the band lays it all out on the line with their third and most refined record to date.
It's clear that they've made a creative leap, as Amends finds the quartet graduating from the ranks of self-released material to the big leagues with Barsuk Records. Active Bird Community arrived on the scene in 2014, then released their masterfully crafted lo-fi, garage-rock-inspired debut, I've Been Going Swimming, the following year. In 2017, they returned with their sophomore effort, Stick Around, proving this wasn't beginner's luck on the first go around. Both compilations were best in show in the indie DIY scene, traveling down the lane of comfortable indie rock. Occupying a youthful exuberance, Active Bird Community transport their '90s indie influences such as Built To Spill and Pavement to their contemporary sonic tones on Amends.
Active Bird Community consists of singer/songwriter Tom D'Agustino, co-songwriter/lead guitarist Andrew Wolfson, bassist Zack Slater, and drummer Quinn McGovern. The tight-knit group, who have been playing music together since middle school, kick things off with the album's title track. "Amends" is a slacker-rock showcase of fuzzy guitars and carefree vocals. It's the kind of song that feels as if you're getting a second shot at something that you hold so close to your heart. The pulsating beat along with the deep dynamism of layered guitars is fortifying to absorb. "Sweaty Lake" speeds through rapidly with its power chords and D'Agustino's display of grit in his vocal cadence. It's a real gem that breaks away from beautiful chaos into something of utter bliss in its final stages.
Previous single, "Unwind With Me," lyrically plays off like an open confession with the band leaving it all on the table for whoever wants take it or leave it. Active Bird Community, fearless in execution, throws a few hardy punches to the gut with this unyielding declaration to someone involved in a dissolving romantic relationship. Sonically, it features twirling guitars and alt-country rock tones to guide the listener to a pacifying conclusion.
The other single, "Baby It's You," has '90s indie-rock ingrained in its fabrics. This slacker anthem has a certain kind of charm and deep appeal on many levels. The group takes a detour with "Blame," heading into another direction that shows off a different slice of delicacy to them. It's mellow and tender as well as more reflective in its narrative presentation.
The standout track, which is bit of a dark horse pick, is "Downstairs," This harrowing jam is contemplative in its smooth sound waves. The track turns on a switch about halfway through, igniting a different type of flame. Suddenly, fuel is added to the flame turning this one into a full brushfire of emotions. It's emotive, lyrically substantive, and has Active Bird Community performing at their highest degree of sonic impact. "Silver Screen" is another showcase for the band doing their now signature slacker-rock resonance with great poignancy to boot.
Connecting the dots of 90s indie rock, 2000s emo rock, and modern garage rock, Amends is a mighty statement of distressing echoes matched only by its afflicting lyricism. The band's effective use of blending the musical strands left behind from indie rock yore and emo rock of yesteryear is a sonic brew worth consuming repeatedly. Active Bird Community's strong demonstration on Amends takes just enough influences to mold something together that feels rather energizing, renewed, and special.