Sing Like Birds

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A collaboration between Jake Anderson's one-man outfit, Celesteville, and the punningly titled Seattle threesome luv [sic], Sing Like Birds shows that attractive, listenable indie rock didn't die with the '90s, it just found other areas to thrive in. Given Celesteville's tendency for wider-ranging experimentalism, it's interesting to hear Anderson singing with a slightly more conventional style, but his softly wounded voice works wonderfully with luv [sic]'s music. Though it's not immediately clear who performs what in luv [sic] -- and given that Anderson's a pretty good multi-instrumentalist himself -- trying to figure out who does what isn't the point so much as the end results, and those are mighty fine. Whether it's amiably ragged like "A River Frozen in Place," the drums making a rough, rumbling mess while never losing the beat, or calmer like "Night Air, Portland," Sing Like Birds is laden with goodies. "I Have Not Spoken All Day" is downright epic, in a way, with a slow-building arrangement that makes use of synth horns in ways that most mainstream studio hacks couldn't pull off if they tried. Much of the recording suggests Galaxie 500's influence without simply copying that band's music -- it's more a result of the gentle reverb and sweet, swinging chime, which also calls to mind various indie gurus like the Field Mice or the Marine Girls. More than once Anderson's lead vocals are backed by vocals from a luv [sic] member, male and female both, and the combination on songs like "End Over End" and "Do Not Talk" works very well (the latter will also have listeners checking their CD players for skipping more than once). One of Anderson's icons, Buck Owens, gets a nod with a neat cover of "White Satin Bed" that alone is worth the investigation of the album. Artwork from Anderson and luv [sic] together helps provide the finishing touch for this enjoyable effort.