This is one of Anie’s album reviews. I’ve limited myself to one sentence per song.
Who Should Buy This: People looking for more mellow music, fans of the indie songwriting perspective, introspective folks, people who appreciate uniqueness in art, and those who appreciate the serenity of sadness in beautiful heartbreak. Basically, Adele. Adele should buy this album.
Album: Beautiful Lies
Genre: alternative, indie, pop
Music Rating: 8/10
Lyrics Rating: 8/10
Sounds Like: Adele, Florence + The Machine, Lana Del Rey
One Sentence Summary: This album is the epitome of beautiful sadness, the quintessential embodiment of a gorgeous heartbreak both in music and in word.
Best thing About this Album: None of these songs come pre-packaged with echoes of tunes you’ve heard a hundred times before. While universal in theme (and even tone), the individuality of the musical and lyrical artistry really makes these songs stand apart from the crowd.
One thing I wish was different: None of these songs will ever get stuck in your head. Maybe that’s a plus for you, but I like it when introspective tunes also call to your subconscious in an involuntary manner. You have to actively want this album.
This is a playlist of all of the songs from the album that will automatically play through the whole album. To skip to a particular song, click on the menu icon in the upper left-hand corner.
1. Growing Pains
I was quite surprised to find the album opening with some strong Asian influences, (though well-done and still rooted in Birdy’s signature musical style) while the lyrics speak of a departure point, embarking with the listener on a journey of hurting, growing, and rediscovering oneself.
Can’t not talk about: This album will be full of little references to popular idioms and proverbs (so pay attention!), and this song kicks it off with “these growing pains have made us far too strong” in an obvious and somewhat humorous nod to “what doesn’t kill you”.
Evoking immediate feelings of an ethereal mind drifting through the void, this track seems to me to speak of waking up to the loss of your own personal identity in someone that you’re not sure why you were so invested in in the first place.
Can’t not talk about: In a stroke a beautiful genius, this song, Shadow is also a foreshadowing setup of a future song on this album, Silhouette, making a beautiful smoky sandwich of epic storytelling.
3. Keeping Your Head Up*
As the first single from this album, I was already familiar with this song as an inspirational anthem of hope and support, but the way that it fits in with the album is a powerful turning point, tonal shift, and perspective augmentation both musically and lyrically.
Can’t not talk about: Those snaps, though!
4. Deep End
Taking the title of my personal favorite of the album, I feel like this musical gem (while containing Birdy’s distinct musical thumbprint) also could’ve fit beautifully into Adele’s last album, which is a testament to the power and scale of this track.
Can’t not talk about: Oh sweet harmony on the ooh’s! It broke me.
5. Wild Horses*
Something about this feels like a weird, cliché Leona Lewis tune on the chorus (which grates on me), but I like it in spite of myself for some really weird/original things that are going on lyrically, and intellectually & conceptually, this track is just on fire.
Can’t not talk about: Insert obligatory comment about the amazing reference and twist on “Wild horses couldn’t drag me away” here, but really I want to take about the ridiculously AMAZE bridge that blew my freaking mind.
6. Lost It All
The tone is giving me music box ballerina, and I feel some Ingrid/Spektor references musically which I perhaps should have expected but did not.
Can’t not talk about: If the words of this song don’t break your heart, then I am not sure that you are human. “If this is what dreams are made of, then I think that I’ve seen enough.”
Dying on the battlefield, the world moves in slow motion as this song begins to play, becoming the inspiration that spurns the final charge to eventual empowerment and victory.
Can’t not talk about: Going from a powerless, disembodied shadow of someone else in track #2 to a triumphal warrior, releasing her own shadow, leading an army of silhouettes into battle, and vanquishing her enemies, I’m a huge fan of this story arc.
An evident answer to “Keeping Your Head Up”, this track reads and sounds like a prayer.
Can’t not talk about: A far cry from being a desperate plea, this seems like a peaceful supplication, which is a somewhat unexpected reprieve of groundedness.
9. Take My Heart
Fitting in the same vein of the album heretofore, though perhaps with a slightly darker tone, this song carries some fantastically powerful musical moments and hooks before coming back down to earth for the titular phrase.
Can’t not talk about: I’m not sure if I’m supposed to feel this way or not, but I feel like the perspective of this song is super spunky in a very understated yet powerful force of nature.
10. Hear You Calling
In a stark departure from the musical tone, this song will shake you up, wake you up, and “make you wonder”, all while driving forward the overall narrative of the album.
Can’t not talk about: “Memories lie. There’s no such thing as a perfect life.”
One of the few songs of the album that I take literally as a relationship song, this track voices beautifully the confused panic of the expectation of endings, masterfully woven around rhythms both anticipated and unexpected.
Can’t not talk about: “I have no words”
12. Save Yourself
Perhaps the most hopeless and heartbreaking track of the album with the darkest perspective, still this track refuses to abandon beauty even as it abandons all hope.
Can’t not talk about: Those background vocals kill!
Calling back to track #3 yet again (along with track #8), this song seems to be a marriage of the plea for help with its proffered salve, learning to find strength within oneself through the bleak despair of hopelessness.
Can’t not talk about: “Sometimes the tears we cry are more than any heart can take. We hide. Just keep it inside. Small wonder that it starts to break.”
14. Beautiful Lies
As the pains and struggles of heartbreak come to a head, this track looks for temporary repose, even in the most superficial and fabricated manner possible, leading to a lack of resolution and taking us back to the beginning of the album with “let’s be numb together”.
Can’t not talk about: This song uses “kill me with kindness” in perhaps the most real and powerful way I have ever heard that phrase used.
Conclusion: This album has the musical bittersweet richness of dark chocolate: it’s tasty in smaller quantities and for a more refined palate, but how can you not love chocolate?
Denotes my favorites
* Denotes songs released as singles
Click here to read through Birdy lyrics (including all the songs from this album).