The Lesser Birds of Paradise require too much patience. With Mark Janka’s sleepy voice and the relaxed guitars, A Suitable Frame is pleasant, but lulling. While there is substance to these snapshot tales, A Suitable Frame may put you to sleep before you find it. The most praise that can be given to The Lesser Birds of Paradise is that they are not annoying. The music that they make is soothing, but that’s about all.
Most likely falling into the misnamed and nebulous new musical category of “twee,” The Lesser Birds of Paradise sing mostly about lost innocence and adolescent love. Sadly, they try a bit too hard to achieve that status. “But life’s not a storybook or a film by John Hughes,” Janka sings a bit too sweetly on “And, I Miss You.” While most songs follow this theme in one way or another, such as the entertaining “The Middle States” about being stuck in the middle of nowhere, the tone is monotonous. However, the music too often drowns out Janka’s voice, and since no lyric booklet was included, it stops being interesting what he’s singing about.
Still, The Lesser Birds of Paradise isn’t all flaws. They do have a certain charm about their music. They play without any pretense, and they arrange their songs with a calm simplicity that sometimes borders on the beautiful. A Suitable Frame has no aspirations to be anything it’s not. Rather, it is just a collection of quiet stories that possess an understated significance and reflect common occurrences in life. For this, The Lesser Birds of Paradise must be given some credit.
Still, A Suitable Frame lacks drama and instead merely meanders around what it set out to cover. It’s not entirely uninteresting, but it takes too long for it to reveal what it has to offer. If you can manage to get through it and still be awake, you may find yourself actually enjoying what you’re hearing. Otherwise, prepare yourself for a nice little nap.