Published Sep 12, 2018Active Bird Community have the kind of band formation story that could have been crafted in a writer's room for a coming-of-age film. Consider: three friends grow-up in a small town; spend summers bonding through music; stick with each other over time; share their music with others. In Active Bird Community's case, however, this isn't some crafted fable. It's a real progression, one that has taken the band from their lo-fi beginnings through to their latest release Amends, a genuine but often generic look at blame, guilt, and forgiveness.
Amends operates on a playing field of clear-eyed slacker rock, the same musical arena as most of the 2000's indie rock efforts. Sonically, the record rarely steps outside of these bounds, delivering guitar-heavy anthems built from heart-on-sleeve remembrances and emotional declarations. Active Bird Community have a great knack for this musical work, and Amends delivers textbook examples of solid indie rock songs that, while well-built, are also familiar, at times failing to offer a clear sense of the band's identity.
Amends' strongest moments are its detours. Escaping the navel-gazing of much indie rock, Active Bird Community focus heavily on offering forgiveness and admitting fault through reaching out to others. Album highlight "Lighthouse" is one of several examples of surprising emotional candour on the record. The track sorts through memories of singer Tom D'Augstino's mother with equal parts pain and love, demonstrating a keen lyrical attention to little details. These moments of particularity give Amends its flickers of wonder, casting light on a deeply-felt band with striking sincerity. (Barsuk)