Stir is the kind of album that lives and dies by the atmosphere it creates. The listener’s willingness to immerse themselves within the soundscape created is dependent on how engaging the weight, the feel and the tone of the record. In the case of Bleeding Heart Pigeons sophomore outing the band’s deft ability, first seen in 2016’s Is, to construct music with stark sonic density makes for an album that pulls us into a dreamlike world of shuddering musicality, claustrophobic production and isolating subject matter.
‘Bubble Boy’ opens Stir with a slow persistent piano line and gentle vocal that gradually become engulfed by washing textures of sound, a slamming beat and sharp-cornered guitars. This obscuring of instrumentation plays within the larger more unruly over-arching sound of Stir, and as an intro, works to establish how the sprawling atmospheric music of Bleeding Heart Pigeons has evolved since the group’s debut offering into something more cinematic and consequential.
Indeed, Stir is a different beast. The crooning vocal that rises above the constantly changing backdrop of the album feels commanding in songs like ‘Real Connection’, with the musical break found towards the end of the track highlighting the contorting soundscape underneath. While the slow-motion turbulent tide of ‘EZ Love’ seems more conversational musically, guitar strums make statements, drum beat snaps and punctuate and shuddered vocal harmonies fight to be heard above it all. Follow this with the driving mood and brooding undercurrent of Trapped’, and this is the sound of Bleeding Heart Pigeons defining a stylised sound that is entirely their own.
However, it is ‘All for the Best’ where Stir hits its high-water mark. The inclusion of a lush, vivid and falling synth line that weaves around the song is the record’s most striking and captivating sonic addition. Add to this a snarled lyrical delivery, a myriad of melodically charged guitar and the full-bodied production that runs right though Stir and Bleeding Heart Pigeons create what is their best track to date, while also evolving their sound in a way that keeps the core established on Is.
And so it goes, few records this year will carry the same sense of sonic foreboding found on Stir. An album where atmosphere is king, Bleeding Heart Pigeons’ second offering is one that constructs a world where heavy tones, darkened moods and augmented sounds meld together and invite the listener into something that twists and contorts in ways that draw you in further with each song.