Ghostly and brittle, yet strong enough to carry lyrics through the speakers and into the air around us like a thick, inescapable fog, the vocal harmony in “Don’t Fall in Love” and all five of the songs that accompany it on the new album One is definitely the bread and butter of Warbler BC’s sound. Warbler BC, a solo vehicle for Denver’s Bruce Wayne Carl, explodes out of total obscurity in One to deliver a devilishly personal and emotionally decadent dream pop record that has none of the trappings a classic British offering in the same genre normally would have. There are no oversized synths – the minute melancholy of “Don’t Fall in Love” is as close as we get – nor blistering white noise or textured basslines for us to contend with here; only a golden voice, and the frequently dark lyrics it unfurls from somewhere inside the mix.
The tempos in “Fair, “Trouble” and “Starry Gown” are jagged whether they’re driven by lyrics or drumbeats the same, but this was an important inclusion primarily to serve the feeling behind the words in each of these tracks (and provide some additional authenticity to the narrative at hand). Warbler BC has instances of sounding like a hybrid of The Cure and Type O Negative – minus the decadence of the former and metallic elements of the latter – but rarely a moment of feeling like an easily-blended act in a broader look at the Colorado scene it was born out of, and that’s a homerun in itself all things considered.
MORE ON WARBLER BC: https://warblerbc.com/releases
Tonal expressiveness, which has become an increasingly visible feature in a lot of the alternative albums I’ve reviewed in 2020, takes a backseat to lyrical wit throughout the whole of One, and in “Trouble,” “Don’t Fall in Love” and “Ulysses Song,” it doesn’t play much of a part at all. This is the only area in which Carl doesn’t hide his straightforwardness – every other example I can think of is saturated in some sort of indie varnish repellant to those who only fancy mainstream content nowadays – but I wouldn’t say he’s pushing the rebelliousness more than he needs to here. If he has an agenda, it’s in possession of some poetic value and that’s hardly the case with 99% of the talent I come across as a professional critic.
Surprisingly bright for an emo-inspired effort, Warbler BC’s debut album One is an inspired listen that doesn’t ask anything of its audience in exchange for a treasure chest of tuneful tenacity and cathartic emissions capable of drawing a reaction from most anyone with an ear for post-punk music. His Denver scene has been the subject of a lot of conversations in the last few years, and when I listen to a tracklist like this one, it isn’t difficult for me to understand what all of the hype has been about at all. Good things come in small packages, and this conservative LP proves that statement true every time it’s picked up and played.
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