Album Review: Home is Where – ‘I Became Birds’

Posted: by The Editor

I Became Birds, the new album by Florida emo group Home Is Where, is a brilliant, blistering eighteen-minute assault ranging from Neutral Milk Hotel-esque acoustic tunes to soaring emo runs of tapping guitars overlapped with horns. Since the album’s release in early March, the band has sold out a few runs of tapes and gained traction within the DIY side of Twitter with their categorization of 5th wave emo subgenres (which, at the very least, is a list of kick-ass bands to listen to). The enthusiastic response to I Became Birds is every bit warranted, considering it’s one of the best, most rewarding releases of the year so far.

Listening to the record feels like climbing a mountain, starting with slower, grandiose acoustic guitar and horns in “L Ron Hubbard Was Way Cool,” then building tension on “Long Distance Conjoined Twins.” The band adds heavier instrumentals, intricate guitar work and more raw vocals in subsequent tracks, reaching a high point when vocalist Brandon Macdonald screeches out “oh! the treachery / of anatomy” and “cops are flammable / if ya try” on “Assisted Harakiri,” an intense emo rocker that seems to be begging to be played live to an overcrowded room full of screaming kids.  It all ends with a loping, folky tune, “The Old Country,” fading out with just a guitar and harmonica.

It’s a short record that feels like a complete piece rather than a collection of songs, but certain moments still stand out and stop you in your tracks. The explosiveness of “Assisted Harakiri” mentioned above is one. But there’s also the harmonica kicking in, or the rasp-ridden growl of “Hey Samantha!” when the band drops out for a moment during “Long Distance Conjoined Twins.” 

“Sewn Together From the Membrane of the Great Sea Cucumber” is also notable for its role as a segue between the lighter and heavier instruments and dynamics on the album—and for the vocal round of “look at all the dogs! / I wanna pet every puppy I see.” After the album’s hardest point yet, the song drops to a lone guitar, wrapped in strings. Things pick up again with “The Scientific Classification of Stingrays,” an infectious rocker with some of the darker and more memorable lyrics on the record (which is saying something, as the I Became Birds is packed with great lyrics that merit repeat listens and reflection). 

On its surface, I Became Birds is an excellent album, mixing traditional folk elements, emo, hardcore and punk. When you listen to the record again and again and contemplate the surreal lyrical turns, its true brilliance shines through. 

Disappointing / Average/ Good / Great / Phenomenal

Aaron Eisenreich | @slobboyreject

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