Ah, the debut EP of a standard-format indie rock band -- scourge of scourges or wonder of wonders, but usually the former these days (and maybe all days), thanks to the fact that guitar-bass-drums acts often concentrate more on littering their music with gimmicks than on writing actual songs, man. The American Eggs EP starts off with an anti-gimmick -- riffs, bass, drums, vox, all unmodified by excessive pedaling or stylization or studio trickery -- and turns it into exactly the thing that advocates of indie roots music long for when they compare then (the early 1990s, say) with now.
Birds of India have spun solid gold out of cheap thread, earning the right to a host of comparisons that critics have thrown around like cheap whores in the last couple of years. "Pins and Needles"' taut bassline, nearly abstract but always engaging guitar figures and masterly sense of space actually does sound like Television circa Marquee Moon. It even spices things up with a line from that instrument that regrettably slips everyone's mind when they talk about Marquee Moon -- the piano. Elsewhere, the band split the difference between their intuitive understanding of what has made Television so timeless with some contemporary hooks, absolutely soaring with a combination of focused playing and unobtrusive melody on "Thanks for Coming" and especially on "American Eggs", which manages a triumphant Big Star vibe before gently letting itself down to a twinkling coda. The band never resorts to verse-chorus-verse simplicity in these songs; instead, they think about their structures and what can be done with an odd assortment of bridges without ever losing track of the songs themselves. It helps that singer Jason Ei's unaffected, cloudless vocals make every melody, no matter where it comes in, seem as if it were the most important one in the song.
My only complaint about the disc has to do with its lyrics, which can harp a bit with their too-predictable critiques of indie poserdom and material culture, especially on "Violent Sex With Gas Station Condoms". Elsewhere, Ei's view of the world is sufficiently complex and poetically inclined ("American Eggs") to excuse these minor quibbles -- and with music so gorgeously simple backing him, he could probably get away with much worse and still be in fine shape. As it is, American Eggs EP is something rare, especially these days -- a gimmick-free rock debut that will hold its own for years to come.
From the very moment you push play on this CD, you get an immediate Mogwai impression from it, although at least in my mind, it's pretty difficult to give a direct Mogwai comparision with Birds of India.
Birds of India attempt a melodicly-written, politically-fueled rock sound and accomplish it quite succesfully on their debut EP. Although not sharing the same definitive sound, the way Birds of India's writing flows strikes a chord in my head with Cursive.
Jason Ei's vocals and lyrics, which are quite politically-motivated, stream perfectly with the muscianship presented by the rest of the band, which capitalizes on it's melodic attitude with a very-soothing, yet powerful, emotional rock overtone on each track. the best example of this can be found on track 2, “Pins & Needles.”
This EP provides for a satisfiying listen, though you may be left a little under satisfied. While obviously being only 6 tracks deep, and having a running time of just under 20 minutes, this EP feels to run way shorter than hoped for, and by the time it finished, you're left craving more. Although, I suppose it's a good touch to keep the listener waiting for the next release and to continue to keep this one in their playlist until then. Definitly worth obtaining for your collection, but the length of this EP is the only thing that keeps this album from recieving a higher score.