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Dead Red Sea: Birds

Eden Miller

Dead Red Sea


Label: Deep Elm
US Release Date: 2001-10-09

Dully self-indulgent, Dead Red Sea seems to be going through the motions on Birds. With its uninspired basement rock, Dead Red Sea is that band whose music is interrupting your conversation. You don't care about what the band is trying to say. You just wish it would stop playing so you could talk. Birds somehow captures that feeling, except you thankfully can stop the album on your own.

The band has a proficient command of its instruments, but that isn't where the problem with Dead Red Sea lies. Dead Red Sea assumes that listeners are going to care without any attempt to engage them to their music. Birds is mediocre at best, and that has little to with the actual musicianship of the band and everything to do with tiresome monotony of the songs here. The band doesn't seem to have confidence in itself, taking no chances nor trying to assert any unique style.

With its adolescent angst, Birds may be heartfelt, but that almost makes it worse. In "Somewhere in the Universe", lead singer Ryan Skellet mumbles, "the whole world is a lie". Equally pathetic is his declaration of "It's just so hard to be alive" on the song of the same name. This earnestness, as genuine as it may be, is hard to take. Instead liking the music he's making with Dead Red Sea, you just feel bad for him, which is much different than feeling actual empathy.

Birds is better when Dead Red Sea stops whining, such as on the upbeat "Obscene Calls" and "Bad Man", which incorporate influences from punk to country. Unfortunately, these brighter songs are scarce, and Dead Red Sea is more dedicated to sharing its pain with world, which leads to extremely forgettable songs. Melodies do not linger, and except for the slightly laughable lyrics, nothing leaves an impression after the album ends.

Thankfully, Birds is only a little over a half hour with its 11 songs. To the band's credit, they don't drag out their songs (even though moping songs like "We're Not Kids Anymore" feel much much longer than three minutes). This keeps the band from feeling like it has an elevated sense of its own importance. Dead Red Sea has realized that these are just little songs and need to be treated as such.

But this feeling of unimportance does keep Birds from being at all appealing. The band only seems to care every now and then, and the self-loathing that is expressed in the lyrics just makes Dead Red Sea seem like a band comprised of losers. Music is, without a doubt, a good expression for pain and insecurities, but Dead Red Sea lacks any charisma. They may try, but it doesn't seem like they're trying that hard. When the band has trouble caring, why should anyone else?

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