Birthmark‘s Antibodies came in a strange time in my life. It was 2012 and between shuffling PhD woes, break ups and the “no money” blues, ‘Stuck’ was an accurate description of the general mood in my life. Antibodies seemed peppy, full of those glitches that made it memorable, but also felt stark, with those heartwrenching lyrics.
How you look when you’re falling down doesn’t change in its method of delivery, it makes it more baroque. The mood, however, is as bright as the front cover. Blame it on Mr. Kinsella‘s honeymoon in Bali. Blame it on the upbeat instrumentation, carefully arranged into intricate, top notch tunes.
The proof is there, in the 8 tracks that make up for an album that is a reflection of the madness and energy high that comes from a major change in your life. ‘Life in a two-way mirror’, for example, is a thousand layer cake that explodes upon biting; a myriad emotions that can’t be contained, fluttering away into the ether.
Even when Birthmark decides to shot straight instead of doing trick shots, the songs have enough variety in themselves to feel like 8 songs perfectly bleshed together, just like Theodore Sturgeon predicted. ‘Suit of armor’ is a dance track that grabs a lil’ bit of Math, a pinch of electronica and a dash of power pop. What was that? It’s Birthmark, breezing through speed cameras!
‘Hurry, hurry, hurry’ is an interesting track, with that mantra-like vocal approach that gives it a penchant for the mysticism. It’s a great lead into ‘Sounds can be so alarming’, the stand-out track not only by its length (8 minutes!) but by the sheer amount of fresh ideas it can muster, round up and convince to march in unison.
I’ve always found Nate Kinsella’s multi-instrumental nature to be fascinating. Sure, he did his duties in the bands of his relatives, but for Birthmark he saved his best ideas. ‘Body aches and butterflies’, the instrumental closer, needs no lyrics, as its musical arrangement speaks louder than any words. It’s proof how much Kinsella knows in musical composition. Gorgeous little track.
Even when the album should feel grey, it still irradiates. ‘How you look when you’re falling down’ had all the elements to be an introspective downer of a track, but instead picks a note from Douglas Adams and faces uncertainty with a wry smile. You can almost think of the flying dolphins taking for all the fish…
When someone says “falling down”, I think of a certain Joel Schumacher film. Specifically, a question that a naive/deranged Michael Douglas asks: “I’m the bad guy?” Although Birthmark’s How you look when you’re falling down never goes into the violent streaks Mr. Douglas did, there is that shared feeling of not knowing if you’re the bad one or not. It matters not, Birthmark says you exist and that really is all that matters.
Words: Sam J. Valdes Lopez