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Bye Bye Blackbirds

Fixed Hearts

(Rainbow Quartz; US: 19 Jul 2011; UK: 19 Jul 2011)

Bay Area foursome Bye Bye Blackbirds, like many of their fellow-acts on the guitar-pop friendly Rainbow Quartz label, are forever in search of the perfect three-minute jangle nugget, and damn if they don’t come pretty close a few times on their sophomore full-length, Fixed Hearts. Ostensibly a batch of songs about relationships broken and repaired (as well as an allusion to heart surgery underwent by drummer Lenny Gill), lyricist Bradley Skaught favors an oblique, literary bent (there seems to be a lot of references to seasons), which nicely offsets the warm, direct tunes and their varying shades of “jangliness”. To wit: the friendly horns that color the opening “Elizabeth Park”, while an agreeably raspy Skaught notes that “we’ll never make it past death alive”; the Byrds-ian “Jack Frost” (“We’re gone like winter”), with its out-of-left-field rig rock coda; even the Stones-y (!) lead on “Through the Clouds”. None of this is earth-shattering guitar pop (does such a thing even exist anymore?), but it is expertly crafted by four gents who appreciate the genre and know exactly what their fanbase wants to hear.

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