Birthmark: Antibødies (Polyvinyl, 5/15/12)
The multi-talented Nate Kinsella (cousin of Tim and Mike Kinsella) has made a name for himself performing in or alongside a slew of out-there indie outfits, including December’s Architects, Joan of Arc, Make Believe, and Owen. As Birthmark, his densely layered solo project, he creates a sound all his own by experimenting with a variety of instruments to an effect that is whimsical and unusual.
In many ways, Antibødies, Nate’s third album, keeps true to indie-pop/rock form. Its lyrics are emotive and confessional, and the songs are, for the most part, very catchy. But all along the way, Nate takes chances with structure and form, and that’s evidenced immediately. “Stuck,” the opening track, begins as a polyrhythmic chamber piece as woodwinds dance over a marimba loop. But it quickly transforms to an indie piece on the back of the loop, marrying a steady bass line and guitar effects to his breathy vocals. The woodwinds later rejoin, accenting the transformed piece but not taking it over.
Elsewhere, the album feels nostalgic, something to be enjoyed with the windows down on a long drive. But it lacks the pretension and redundancy that so easily come with the singer-songwriter act. “Shake Hands,” destined to be an instant favorite, is one of the album’s most tender moments; “Please Go Away” is perhaps its most trippy. With no shortage of sounds, Antibødies teeters between the two sentiments without losing its cohesiveness. It’s another compelling, sophisticated Birthmark album.