Bobby Birdman – Let Me In

Bobby Birdman
Let Me In

Hush Records embraces the label anti-rock, so much so that they themselves go out of the way to put, in big, bold letters, “Yawn” on their press material. That’s not to say it’s boring, although many people, as the label points out, might think so. It’s just unconventional in its penchant for quiet, sparse music by unique artists. And Bobby Birdman is a perfect fit.
Bobby Birdman is the moniker of Rob Kieswetter, the singer/songwriter for this album. And despite the listing of three other musicians, this feels very much like a solo project, a work of one man and his own vision for quiet, simple pop songs. At times similar to Low, at times the Beatles, Kieswetter’s unique, slightly off-kilter vocal delivery and simple guitar lines form the framework for the songs here. Kieswetter almost warbles at times, almost whispers at others, and you get the sense that these songs would be just as good without the accompaniment, as if one man with a guitar in a tiny room could make them just as intimate and poignant.
I don’t get far into the opener, “I Must Admit that I Love You,” without turning it up at least three times. The production as much as the instrumentation is responsible for the empty, quiet feeling this and most songs on Let Me In embraces. Just Kieswetter’s voice and a sparsely strummed guitar kick off the album before drums and piano add elements to the slightly more up-beat “Moving On/Up.” The percussion on this album is fairly repetitive, providing almost an electronic, dub-style beat that’s soft and flowing in the background, and that helps tie several of the songs together.
But Kieswetter doesn’t need percussion. At times, there’s barely any accompaniment to his voice, as on “Golden Arms,” which he sings almost as a folk-style hymn, and “Such an Icy Feeling” that feels, to me, to be an a capela song dominated by silence. At times, there seems to be almost nothing at all, save for bits of a beat, which starts off “J Tear” and evolves into a kind of pleasant, melancholy pop song. And “Let Me In” is virtually drone-like, with an electronic hum behind the softest of music and softer yet vocals. That’s the opposite of the one true pop song here, “Blue Skies,” a Beach Boys-esque ditty that evokes images just like the title and even bears some similarities in structure to a more atmospheric Guided By Voices song.
At times, Bobby Birdman is too quiet for my taste. Every time I listen to this album, I turn up the stereo enough to enjoy its subtleties and am blasted by noise when the next album comes on. Is it the production that makes things so bare, or is it the preference of Kieswetter and co., trying to do less with more…or should I say less. Soft and sparse to say the least, there are still some simple and charming pop songs to be heard on Let Me In and some moments of very subtle beauty. Listen close, or you’ll miss them.