By Marvin Dotiyal, Features Editor
Key Tracks: “Phoenix”, “Bad Beer”, “Acolyte”
Meet Jake Ewald’s other half in Birdie. Slaughter Beach, Dog’s latest reveals Ewald’s true disposition when he’s not selling the angsty, “sad boy” aesthetic in Modern Baseball. Ewald dropped Birdie two weeks after Modern Baseball played three final hometown shows and officially went on an indefinite hiatus. With a pristine combination of serene, delicate melodies and a careful choice of words, Birdie seems too well-planned for a frontman who had just gone on hiatus for his main band.
Don’t expect a lot of MoBo vibes in this one. Say bye to the angsty attitude and dull singing style in You’re Gonna Miss It All; instead, Ewald dissects his parts from Holy Ghost to a calmer, indie rock route with a lot more acoustic guitar and passion. As always, his songs are crafted by injecting extra emotion and evocative relatability, both in his melodies and lyrics, which is distinctively clear in Birdie.
Over the years, Ewald has proved himself as a lyrical wordsmith through his compelling storytelling abilities. The appeal derives from his down-to-earth, straightforward lyrics shown in Modern Baseball. In his solo project, however, he tends to focus a lot more on formulating visual cues with his words to tell a story. Honesty always plays a significant role in Ewald’s writing as most of the lyrical content in this album are based on Ewald’s reflection on his life, ranging from his childhood (“Pretty O.K.”) to early adulthood (“Acolyte”) and everything in between.
The simple yet effective instrumentation in Birdie creates an intimate warmth between the elaborate lyrics, reanimating and filling the songs with sincerity to its brim. There’s no doubt that his selection of imagery in “Phoenix” illustrates melancholic, nostalgic snapshots of a past romance and the precise details in “Bad Beer” replicate the tiresome lifestyle and the inner conflicts of touring and gaining exposure as a young musician.
Ultimately, Birdie is Ewald’s outlet for almost everything, not Modern Baseball related; it’s a glimpse through his lens, which is accompanied by his thorough observations and insightful commentary that goes along with it. It’s not about musical technicality; it’s all about the mood Ewald establishes by the lyrics and how the acoustic melodies complement the whole mix. Overall, the album is very soothing and harmonious in nature, even if there are a couple fillers that may sound similar. While the wait for Modern Baseball’s hiatus continues, it’s definitely worth looking out for Slaughter Beach, Dog’s future.