As a band that’s been together since they were in middle school, Active Bird Community has undergone a few sonic shifts in the 13 years since forming in 2005. From their days of stormy shoegaze, the Brooklyn-based indie rock quartet have since evolved to a scrappier alt-rock sound anchored by catchy, guitar-driven hooks We heard it on “Dead Legs” a while back, and we’re hearing it again today with the premiere of a new track from the band called “Spend The Night.” The song arrives with news of their signing to Barsuk Records, where their upcoming album will join a catalog including Death Cab For Cutie, Ra Ra Riot, and Charly Bliss.
One of the descriptors that may first come to mind when listening to ABC is ’90s slacker rock, which makes sense considering their loose, lackadaisical vocal style (that calls to mind Stephen Malkmus on early Pavement records) and generous use of fuzzed out guitars (which, you know, also brings to mind early Pavement records). But Active Bird Community’s music is anything but apathetic, or lazy, for that matter. The Brooklyn four-piece may sound laid back, but they don’t shy away from really digging into their own vulnerabilities, fears, and frustrations and fleshing these out in their songs. Their last full-length, “Stick Around” was a tenacious record that tackled the trials and tribulations of post-grad life in nine raw, noisy tracks.
On “Spend The Night,” vocalist Tom D’Agustino waxes contemplative as he battles the slippery slope of relationships. If the last album questioned what the hell one is supposed do after they graduate, “Spend The Night” poses an equally thorny question: “Is it better to stay in a place that isn’t working anymore for the sake of the relationship, or is it okay to move on?” It’s a nervy songs that splays its guts on the table, alongside tight instrumentation that heats up until the song boils over into catchy riffs and vocals that criss-cross over one another.
Active Bird Community confront life’s taxing obstacles in a way that never seems self-righteous, and always feels genuine. It’s something that sets ABC apart from the seemingly endless sea of Brooklyn-Indie-Rock-Dude-Quartets who can shy away from appearing like they actually care. Maybe it has something to do with the chemistry of the band, made up of childhood friends who’ve been playing together since they were eleven years old. It’s almost like none of them are afraid to show their real feelings because, well, they knew each other when they were in middle school. In other words, they’ve already seen the worst so what’s left over is a sense of comfort that you can sense in their music.
ABC are distinct for lasering in on problems and singing about them without fear or pretense. It never seems like the band is performing this kind of sincerity, but instead, a kind of earnestness that comes from a bond unique to childhood friends. As each record comes out and their sound evolves, it’s like you’re walking through these issues together, and maybe, growing up together, too. Check out the song below.