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Bird Machine - EP Review: Hey Human

25 Feb 2024 // A review by Danica Bryant

Their name is animal, but their music is undeniably human. Bird Machine's latest release is a five-track collection of shoegazing pop-rock, composed by husband and wife duo Luke and Jenna Grbin. It's a thrilling entry to the alternative genre with a beautiful earnesty to the songwriting.

Latest single St. Elmo's Fire (Keep Me Awake) is Hey Human's standout track, a pounding, anthemic moment of stadium rock that boasts fierce electric guitars and a lead vocal performance ready to belt to the rafters. It calls for the listener to stay awake and find "where the noise beats stronger". They should resist the urge to expectations, and instead forge their own path in the world. Where this message has high potential to come across cliche, Bird Machine adapt the standards with inspiring yet mysterious imagery of nature and family, and a punchy rhyming scheme that makes this song a perfect hit for fans of acts like Paramore and Alabama Shakes.

Closure is the moody tonesetter that promises a sense of future growth in its dreamy, cyclical hook, "It doesn't have to be this way". Melisma's in this song put Jenna's charismatic vocals at the forefront of the performance. You'll Be Fine similarly emphasises a feeling of hope and optimism, fluttering from a gentle piano-led opening into an explosive chorus. Spunky, rattling guitars litter the track,  reminiscent of the late 2000s Guitar Hero craze. But this sound is subtly modernised through a backing wall of sound, hazy and wild with subtle buried keys. Although the melodies throughout the EP do begin to feel somewhat similar, this sense of cohesion is also something to be proud of, allowing the songs to differentiate themselves with further listening as they unveil more details.

The duo emphasise the feeling of dissonance on Through The Windows, a slower track that's deliberately vague in its musings on human relationships. Its synth post-chorus is simple and gentle but becomes a surprising earworm long after it's over. Switching between vocalists on the closing track From Here In The Light HouseHey Human's conclusion is sweeping and ethereal. Picturing a finale in a metaphorical harbour, it's a cinematic finale worthy of Bird Machine's deeply emotional storytelling throughout.

What's most impressive about this EP is that it's independently produced in the duo's home studio, but the sound is as polished as ever. Hey Human has all of alt-rock's necessary grit and fire, but also features an extra sheen to the mix, which makes Bird Machine stand out amongst New Zealand's exciting rock acts.


About Bird Machine

Bird Machine are Luke and Jenna Grbin, a pair of lovers from Geelong, Australia, and Hamilton, New Zealand. Combining distinct musical sensibilities, the current batch of songs reminisces on early 90's alt-rock with inflections of folk, wrapped up in plush pop melodies. Their jointly penned lyrics, at once commentative and introspective, shimmer within layered vocals above a swirling tapestry of guitars, keys, and syncopated beats. Vocals and instrumentation are composed, performed, recorded, and produced by the two in a little bedroom in the New Zealand suburbs.

Their first release A Lot of Love, is about embracing differences as a way of overcoming the polarization and conflict that permeates the globe right now. Layered, syncopated, and laid-back, this genre-fluid jam is a soulful and heartfelt debut.

Their next single, Our Kind, is set for independent release in the first half of 2022.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Bird Machine


Hey Human
Year: 2024
Type: EP
Bird Machine
Year: 2022
Type: EP

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