Friday, May 18, 2007

Au Revoir Simone, The Bird of Music (Our Secret Record Company)

Dream-pop girl group revel in the beauty of sadness

On The Bird of Music, the three willowy women that comprise Brooklyn synth-pop trio Au Revoir Simone conjure a dreamy, quixotic sound reminiscent of the melancholy ambiance of Sofia Coppola's directorial debut The Virgin Suicides. Coppola's hazy, romantic vision of the 1970s was scored with a quirky cross-section of the decade's most melodically morose hits, like 10cc's "I'm Not in Love," alongside the swirling, synthesized sounds of French duo Air. Au Revoir Simone's Heather D'Angelo, Erika Forster and Annie Hart use only three keyboards and a beat-box, and write wistful, delicate songs rich with a similar nostalgia and heartbreak.

They like mixing moods, with the album opening on the downbeat but hopeful "The Lucky One," featuring child-like vocal harmonies invocative of the Carpenters singing with the Polyphonic Spree. "Sad Song" juxtaposes an uplifting, bouncy rhythm reminiscent of Stereolab against teary-eyed lines like "Play me a sad song/because that's what I want to hear/I want you to make me cry."

The ladies' quiet, comforting voices almost drown in the oceans of thick analog waves and cascading pianos that ebb and flow through "A Violent Yet Flammable World." They crank up the BPMs with a jumpy new wave tempo on the celebratory skip of "Night Majestic," before closing with the string-laden grandeur of "The Way to There."

The Bird of Music is a cinematic collection of mood-driven tone poems for your own real-life soundtrack, with Au Revoir Simone serving as the house band whenever you feel like checking out and indulging in just how good sadness can feel (and sound). With or without Coppola behind the camera.

(Originally published on