Queen’s Birthday – Hoping Mechanism – EP Review
Definitely dig the story I’m piecing together about Queen’s Birthday as I check out their social-media & debut EP online…digging the sound too, but it’s been rad to learn about the journey this duo has taken to get to where they are today. Seems like Hoping Mechanism has been a work in progress for quite some time…I can see evidence of songs being written back as far as 2013 in postings and what sounds like a whole bunch of life, learning, loving, & leaving taking place in between now & then. If you’re in Queen’s Birthday right now, I’d imagine it probably feels pretty damn good to get this record out finally.
“When The Summer Comes Around” starts up their new EP and is also the song I can pinpoint back to five years ago based on what I’ve read about it. Word on the street is that we’re supposed to be gettin’ a whole bunch of new descriptions and details on what’s up with the songs on this record…still plenty of time according to the post up at Facebook. Said they’d do a song breakdown over the ‘next week’ starting on the 18th of October and they’ve got one out so far…TONS of time still to fill us in on the backstory behind these tunes right? Homework’s due by midnight Thursday boys, time to start typin.’
That being said, I’d rather they’re hittin’ the studio than taking more time to explain themselves to us all anyhow, as cool as that may be. When you hear the smoother-than-smooth bass-lines that start up “When The Summer Comes Around,” I mean…if you’re anything like me, you’re like, fuck words altogether – I just want more of that BASS and this music from Queen’s Birthday – so they can have an extension on their self-imposed deadline as far as I’m concerned…the music’s priority numero uno. And now that this inviting rhythm & melody is out there after being stuck in incubation since 2013…well…that should free up PLENTY of time for Queen’s Birthday to start working on those new tunes right? Right? Damn I’m greedy. But you’ll hear it…if you dig that hazy-melodic approach that feels like you could roll right over and fall right into the music, like you’d find in say, like the playful vibes of a band like The Dandy Warhols at times, you’ll dig these guys too for sure. “When The Summer Comes Around” ends up being a solid mix of smooth sound, smart lyricism, and genuine fun; you can call me crazy if you like…but there is a ton in common with this mellowed-out tune and the grunge era in the fundamentals of the writing. Crank up the distortion on this cut and you’d be right in the 90’s again – Queen’s Birthday has done the opposite by taking this tune in a more gentle direction, but there’s definitely no doubt or arguing about the results – this is a truly inviting vibe to start a record with.
“Oceans” is an interesting tune…I think this is where you start realizing that Queen’s Birthday might just belong with bands like Pavement or Band Of Horses for that alt-indie weirdness that seems to somehow become impeccable melody that’ll hit the mark perfectly in the right moment. As in, could “Oceans” become the people’s favorite out there when it comes to this lineup of songs by comparison? It sure could. It’s gentle & hazy vibe has this bizarrely lethargic energy to it, but everything you’ll hear creating that represent a lot of the strengths that this band is building with as well…that melody in the writing is gorgeous, so is the background & lead-vocals again, guitars too. I think the first verse in particular has some of that alt-indie oddness in way the melody & harmonies work…kind of like you’d hear in songs by the Smashing Pumpkins but without so much of the whining sounds of Corgan…just similarly captivating when they slide into the smoothest parts of “Oceans” in the chorus that seems to float away and take you with it. I’ll tell ya this much, they deserve an award for how well each element of this song has been recorded; from the guitars to the keys, percussion – everything has an incredible clarity and spectacular sound. “Oceans” is probably the song that’ll sneak up on ya the most throughout this record…it’s a pretty isolated & intimate little tune when it begins and expands perfectly into its fully developed sound.
I love the organic melody & feel that they put out on “26.8” – Queen’s Birthday does a lot of things right on this record, but I really felt like they stumbled into something special with this tenderized track. The vocals of this cut fit 100% perfectly…tone is spot-on, energy, attitude, mood too…check, check, check – and then like, have a serious listen to the complexity and texture that’s happening in the background in the music as “26.8” finds its biggest moments; remarkable stuff really…it might sound smooth, but there’s actually quite a bit going on creating the inviting vibe on this tune. Reminds me a lot of an early Radiohead vibe here from some of their B-sides (which to be clear, are pretty much A-sides for anyone else) back in the day and their own more stripped-down acoustic & raw sound. Quite likely my favorite vocal performance on this whole EP – didn’t feel like there was a moment, note, or tone I’d wanna replace in this entire song and I think the honesty you get in this performance is straight-up exceptional. Almost the opposite end of the spectrum from a track like “All In,” I found “26.8” to be just as engaging for completely different reasons when it comes to what we hear, but the quality in the writing, performances, and focus here are brilliantly similar in strength. As subtle as “26.8” might be at times – don’t let this gentle sound fool you, it’s certainly one of the strongest tunes on the EP as far as I can tell.
Flexing their rock-side a bit more in getting right into the thick of the grooves on “Growing Young Getting Older,” you can feel that extra inspiration of a more involved sound take hold of them here. They’ll start it out in a quaint acoustic-based sound before breaking out even more color & imagination through the added lead-guitar. Highlight guitar-solo on this cut, that much is completely clear – dude brought the best out for this one in terms of both how it’s played and the tones he’s playin’ with…came out fantastic on this tune. They remind me a bit of Feeder on this particular song when it comes to how the chorus of “Growing Young Getting Older” flows & sounds, which is always more than OK with me – I love that band and they’ve had many moments like this that combine the acoustic & electric vibe like Queen’s Birthday are so well here. Whether it’s the lead or the rhythm, the bass or the drums, the vocals in front or in behind, they’re definitely feeling this vibe and allowing themselves to get right inside of the imaginative and expressive nature of this idea with confidence and creativity. Overall, I think you’ve gotta admire that whether they keep the energy in a song strictly low-key or add more color to it, the relaxed vibe that Queen’s Birthday has always comes shining through & sounds natural. The hazy sway of the main hooks & melody in “Growing Young Getting Older” really satisfies in that soul-soothing way that only those special finds in music truly can. I have a few moments with the drums here & there where I’m feeling that split-second’s worth of hesitation or over-complications at times – but, for the most-part, they’re right where they need to be and add a lot of charisma to the song. Excellent ending to this tune, slowly reducing and simplifying the song in a deconstruction, complete with a bit of rain from the outside world to cap it off perfectly and set the mood for the final tune.
Dialing back the energy into the melodic terrain that has made up at least half of this record if not more, Queen’s Birthday plays and sings sweetly to exit the Hoping Mechanism EP with “God Smiles.” Lyrically, this was a brilliantly focused cut…excellent imagery in the words that completely suit the whole chill of this fireside-vibe they’ve got goin’ on with “God Smiles.” Never underestimate a song just because it’s barely over two-minutes long I tell ya…”God Smiles” is definitely proof of why that is – this tiny tune has an exquisite vibe that hangs in the air like a warm hug around you. Sounds like this is played on a classical guitar as well…so you get that added definition from the nylon strings working wonders as well; mind you, that could be an effect of course in this day & age, who really knows…but that’s what I’m hearing. Definitely makes a huge difference in this final song and adds an extra layer of charm into the sound of “God Smiles” that your ears will want to get in close to listen to. Best way I can put it perhaps, is that Queen’s Birthday retains their alt-indie identity here while at the same time send you off floating to dreamland with what’s essentially a sweet & tender lullaby for the modern day. Another killer example of the clarity in their recording and how well that combines with the hazy vibe in their sound – “God Smiles” wraps up the Hoping Mechanism EP in a beautifully warm experience you’ll remember. As subtle & mellow as “God Smiles” is – there’s such an enormous degree of inviting sound from the music to the vocals on this last cut that you’ll stop to sit & listen to it no matter what you’re in the middle of.
It might have taken a while for Queen’s Birthday to come around to this debut recording, but it sure sounds like they belong where they are now that they’re here. Everything about the Hoping Mechanism EP sounds magnificently comfortable in all the right ways…like it was really meant to be, all along.
Find out more about Queen’s Birthday at their official page at Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/queensBday
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