Flying Mammals 2017
Consolidating strength in numbers, Sandpoint-born siblings spiral out into global orbit.
“We Have Come So Far”: oozing pride in spades, this psychedelic piece from the Birdsall brothers’ fourth album reports from a pivotal point in FM’s run from tragedy to triumph. It took the band a few years to form, after their family residence in Idaho burned down, and the refreshed togetherness seems to accumulate with “Vier” that would see Jeremy join Aaron, James and Andy to bring home the record’s title, meaning “four” in German, and make artwork more meaningful. The Deutschland link came via Castle Röhrsdorf, the place where the tracks were preserved for posterity with producer Sylvia Massy, famous for her handling of TOOL, who found the siblings’ ensemble while looking up animals able to take wing. The result of such serendipity elevated the quartet to a Grammy nomination – because there’s hardly a weak moment in the devil’s dozen songs on display.
Spanning a mere 37 minutes, these tracks don’t leave a lot of space for soloing – so the filigree guitar fills in “Shake You Up And Break You Down” stand out – yet surprises are aplenty here, and the bluegrass tinge of opener “Tea In Bed” fails to prepare the listener for what’s to come. There’s an incessant flow of sweet tunes, starting from “Time I Wasted” to reveal the band’s soulful edge, the track’s piano-propelled pop simply irresistible and the funk of “Today I Have a Good Day” sparkling with rapture. Spiced up with sitar, brief interlude “Siete” is but a preparation for the heavy riffs which lead “Would You Still Love Me” to delirium, before the mandolin ripple, ivories wave and orchestral tide behind “Right Now Somehow” add drama to the proceedings.
“We won’t go quietly”: this promise in the boisterously romantic “Stand Up” suggests there’ll be more delights from the foursome, the groove and vocal harmonies “Soldier On” solidifying the hope for future beauty. There’s no need for “Vier” to vie for gongs; it’s great as it is.