One Day International – Blackbird (Independent Records Ireland)
While it seems they never fully accelerate into true exhilaration, One Day International do present an entertaining world of dynamic intricacy and whimsical drama that fits into this year beautifully. With the currency of tremulous vocals going ever upwards in value thanks to Fleet Foxes and The Acorn and probably some others, Blackbird comes at a time that will serve its creators very well indeed.
Gently grandiose in much of its execution, the piano and strings often swell with simplicity and reliance on swirling motifs. That piano enters, ringing like Shearwater, on Lead Balloon with pizzicato strings providing muted and dignified accompaniment to the numbness of the lyrics. Expanding, the gospel outro to Not Over You is beautiful, like Tindersticks showing rare softness in lyric as well as sound. Showing that they’re more than able of creating drama in its fullest sense makes One Day International a rare treat at times – though one wishes for more tension. Because of the brevity of many of the songs, emotional attachments can’t always be effected. It seems as soon as dramatic scenarios are evoked, we have to leave them behind.
Sonics and dynamics finally combine to achieve bliss on Black Is The Bird, at least in terms of the album’s trajectory. All earlier heartbreaks are rendered moot by some simple, strong strings and knowledge of the changing dynamic palette. It’s the album’s strongest moment and, with no coincidence, the longest. Given time to properly render the background, the sound is able to match the expectation when the wave eventually breaks. A magic moment. After that, the only real composition of note and weight is the diverting Big Surprise, which takes the Teddy Bears’ Picnic to an eco-mad conclusion, with sinister undertones and horror-film simplicity throughout. The whole, though, is extremely enjoyable and works as a worthy addition to Shearwater’s Rook and The Acorn’s Glory Hope Mountain, joining them as literate, emotionally sophisticated works.
Blackbird is available on Independent Records Ireland. More here.