Wednesday, May 20th, 2009

Little Birdy – Summarize

Aussie new-wavers get horns…


Matt Cibula: Five points for this being the best reason for retro-pop worship since, um, the last one, which I can’t remember right now. Another four points because the singer bears an uncanny and quite shocking resemblance to my wife. Like, DUDE.

Chuck Eddy: Inept excuse for pop-rock fronted by a presumably grown woman adopting the vocal affectations of a prepubescent girl, for the five-millionth unbearable time in the past two decades. Yet it’s saved from being absolute birdy-poop by the melodic appropriation of sweet late ’50s/early ’60s teen-idol kiss-kiss bang-bang (and that very phrase, hence a reference to either a movie I’ve never seen or a song by a goth-I-guess band called Specimen I’ve never heard.) Comes off, to be extremely charitable, like Blondie with all the guts drained out — but with something left in, maybe.

Martin Skidmore: It’s Australian ‘power’ pop, with a diffident, nasal female singer, and this would be palatable enough if they had remembered to write a chorus to go between the verses, or there was more actual force. Without that it seems a rather purposeless chug, with an exasperating squawk of sax ending it very badly.

Michaelangelo Matos: This has me flashing back to the mid-’90s, not for the way it sounds — that’s firmly planted in 2009 — but for the way it sounds like everything else on indie-rock radio all at once. Horns and arrangement are straight out of Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga with a soupcon of Jens Lekman, the dual women’s voices have some quirk, sort of like Flo the Progressive Insurance lady — and similarly not too weird for mom. This isn’t in itself a bad thing at all, either — I prefer this kind of stuff uncut, but sometimes a trickle-down effect will open previously unrealized shadings. This doesn’t: it’s professional, bright, slightly tacky, and not memorable.

Hillary Brown: That Spin Doctors tone in the guitar is yanking on my nerves, despite my initial inclination to enjoy this, and I think, despite its other leanings in the direction of the Temptations and late up-tempo Elvis, I can’t get over my issues with the 90s.

David Raposa: I might be more forgiving of this tune’s Motown / Stax appropriation than most, but Little Birdy’s lack of shame in showing what’s up and on their sleeves, coupled with their skill in ripping these moves off (love that walking bassline) and Katy Steele’s brassy modesty on the mic (something like The Cardigans’ / A Camp’s Nina Persson with a pinch more sass and swagger), I’m totally smitten. Please to bring “Summarize” stateside this summer so Ida Maria has someone on the US modern-rock airwaves to play with.

Andrew Unterberger: This is a cute one, huh? “Dance to the Music”-style tambourine, hand claps, a bouncy little bass line, horns and harmonies when necessary… My one complaint: sunny song, coming out in the late spring — you guys could’ve spelled it “Summerize.” No one would have held it against you.

Additional Scores

Ian Mathers: [5]
Edward Okulicz: [6]

4 Responses to “Little Birdy – Summarize”

  1. Well, I clearly underrated this one a little — re-listening to it now, I’m not hearing the bothersome little-girl thing as much, and they’re probably more the Divinyls with the guts drained out than Blondie. May well deserve a 5, even a 6. But I’m sorry, Katrina and the Waves did way better Motown.

  2. ‘Chug’ is a good description. Chugs along, putting one beat in front of another, not getting anywhere good.

  3. I first came across the ‘kiss kiss bang bang’ phrase in Pauline Kael’s writing about movies.

  4. Great Australian band… good song too, though it kind of misrepresents them as more retro than they generally are.

    Also, to Mr. Unterberger: it’s approaching winter here.