On its debut mini-album, 2006’s Verses of Comfort, Assurance & Salvation, Brooklyn trio Au Revoir Simone used a basic setup of three girls, three keyboards and a drum machine to craft intimate and surprisingly dynamic twee-pop lullabies. In adding sonic layers to that template for the proper debut, The Bird of Music, the band achieves a lusher sound that’s strangely less compelling.
This phenomenon plays out during opener “The Lucky One,” in which a metamorphosis from singular whispers to a full choir only highlights the mushy new-age lyrics. And the lyrics, or perhaps the lack of emotion with which they are presented, are a drawback throughout. Songs like “A Violent Yet Flammable World” overcome this deficiency by adding complementary dark synth lines and hiding flat vocal effects with warm harmonies. But often the thin voices are left cruelly isolated, and the intricate arrangements can’t anchor the slight subject matter; songs like “Stars” and “I Couldn’t Sleep” are never more than forgettably pretty.
The Bird of Music is pleasant. Chronically pleasant, even. That’s hardly an insult, but it’s not exactly a glowing compliment, either.