EP Review: Birch – Not Human

Not Human

Released 9th June 2017

Words: Julia Grantham

This EP is bursting with imagery and symbols of our reliance on ‘cell phones’; our devouring of ‘movies’ and all because of this digital age. However, disguised as a collection of love songs, or not, one cannot deny the undercurrent of politics, whether that be a battle of the sexes, or the war and terror we all are part of, just by being alive and at the mercy of our governments. Michelle is from New York, I am from York, UK. Our issues as women today, well, they overlap. Boys will love this EP, oh please go and listen guys, but ladies, you need a song or two to help you realise relationships or infatuation is a two-way cocktail? Listen to this:

 

Not Human, is Birch’s latest EP. It is as clever as it moving, melodic, rich with harmony and up-to-the-minute stylisation. Unlike the first EP I ever reviewed: Halfway; Not Human, sees Michelle’s voice elevated to almost childlike style vocals. It has been mixed, but to great effect. It almost sounds Eastern, like a young girl from Japan, which I love as it reminds me of Scarlett Johansson in the movie: Lost In Translation. We can leave Bill Murray out of this (!) but Johanssons’ perception of life, culture, relationships and fellow human beings, is not unlike the lyricism here. I just love it.

 

Track one, Same Colours, is most definitely my favourite, and in my humble opinion the right choice to start. The introduction is trademark synthy, but childlike, dreamy, and with steady beats. The stand out lyrics for me are: ‘Watching the same movie‘, ‘We see the same colours differently‘. For me, this means: We’re both seeing the same thing here, we’re the girl and the boy in the movie, but we don’t see eye-to-eye. The movie element is very telling. A bit like watching a soap opera between two ‘friends’ on facebook maybe? This couple have an audience. I just adore the fact that when the girl sings, male vocals answer back too. Very powerful. ‘We see this differently, I am not your enemy, how can I make you see?’ (Guy) The reply: ‘So I don’t have to see, alone’ (Girl). Just listen to it folks, it’s so very poignantly moving: an emotional tug-of-war.

 

Pick Sides, opens like a ticking clock and the lyrics relay the idea that in a relationship, everyone on the outside has an opinion. The female in the song is brave. ‘You said goodnight, if I run and hide’ but she doesn’t. She’s determined, intuitive. And the message: ‘It’s my fucking body!’ A real anti-misogynistic song this, and the instrumentation is simple, steady and effective. I think the backdrop though is very political ‘We pick sides, and confirm both our ears and our eyes’. I think this is no accidental line. Donald Trump is the president of Birch’s country. And his very presence divides this hugely powerful country.

 

Cell Phone is where the demonstrative technological images are simply undeniable. Smart phones they’re also called, and it made me think: Who decided to call them ‘smart’? Sometimes they really aren’t, but the flight mode option mostly definitely is, right? When you need to shut yourself out from the world. This track showcases the quickest tempo, like a rapid heartbeat. It’s about taking control, and owning a situation. The line ‘I don’t have to take your call’ can mean simply a person you know, and don’t want to speak to, or ignoring those who call from afar, politicians perhaps. I can think of some fabulous musicians in the electronic music field who I think would do some fabulous remixes of this. It’s beautiful, very 80s, a dance-floor filler. Madonna would be proud.

 

 

Nobody Lives Forever. Just the mere title suggests time is running out; act now, go with your gut before it’s too late. A warning as to how we should vote? There are lots of these fears across the planet. It’s on everyone’s lips and in everyone’s thoughts. ‘The fear of time, fear of failure, because nobody lives forever‘ ‘We’re terrified‘. Again, the right choice to close the EP. Terrified? I am. Of my future; the election here in The UK is about to be announced, hours away from now, as I type this, but: ‘Darling you’re not alone‘. Yes, thank you Birch, we’re never alone if we surround ourselves with the right people; those who show us love and respect. Thank you for this EP, Birch. I look forward to receiving mine in the post.

 

 

 

 

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    Popped Music has been going since Feb 2010.

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