Birthh, the artistic endeavor of Alice Bisi, is a bedroom pop journey that is becoming one of my dark horse favorites of 2020. The sound on her album Whoa is whimsical, and a list of her “likes” on the Birthh facebook page lends a surprising window into the vibe of this project.
Her likes include the following: “the smell of fresh sheets, witty imagery, empathy, driving alone, songs that make her stomach tingle, oxymora, freshly baked focaccia, good people with good intentions.”
Now, what is it about the above list that resonates so much while I listen to her music? It might be the fact that I enjoy most of those things too. It might be that all of those things are everyday things yet have a certain quirkiness to them. All of these things, like the songs, are simple and resist the need to overcomplicate. Accordingly, none of the songs on the 28-minute Whoa overstay their welcome. Imagine if Sylvan Esso made a record in their bedroom and peeled back some of the layers of electronics. Indeed, this album is a concoction of delicately layered acoustic stylings, down to earth vocals, handclaps, and sparse electronic compositions. In some songs, they come together in a particularly poignant and evocative way, such as in album closer “Space Dog.”
The noteworthy thing about Birthh’s lyrics is how they simultaneously are vulnerable yet don’t take themselves too seriously. There’s a very stream-of-consciousness vibe that permeates the entirety of the record. For example, what does a title like “Elephants Sing Backwards” even mean? Is that title just a placeholder or is there a deeper meaning? The chorus reads:
So, why don’t you answer me? Do elephants sing backwards here? I wish all the clouds They can take us to the stratosphere Do elephants sing backwards here?
Here, a plea of desperation toward a lover is expressed via superfluous hyperbole. It could be argued that conjuring a ridiculous image is both a coping mechanism for dealing with pain and a metaphor used to express the pain. We see these sorts of expressions and one-liners throughout the album.
Well, I spent some of this review sipping on an iced mocha and eating an apple cinnamon scone. Before I get into a sugar coma, I should probably wrap this up. No danger of entering a coma listening to this album though; it’s definitely sugary and calming at the same time.