Back in January, when Little Bird first announced their ambitious plans to release the 23-track album Proxima as a series of three separate EPs, I was a bit of a skeptic. While it’s always been clear that the members of Little Bird are talented musicians, I wasn’t sure that they could write enough interesting songs to warrant releasing an album that long. Let alone releasing it in three separate parts, over the course of an entire year.
Would Little Bird, authors of the lyrical masterpiece “Honey Leak”, hold our collective interests, or would they miss the mark and have everybody saying “who cares”? My bet was on the latter, and early on I had the corny single “Mega Hot Super Babe” and the grammatical mess that was the “SWIPE” lyric video in my corner.
However, as the release cycle wore on, I found that there was less to poke fun at and more to enjoy. Little Bird have kept a steady stream of Proxima-related content coming throughout the entire year (continuing with the “who cares” video out this week), and instead of getting boring, each piece of Proxima revealed has been more and more interesting.
PROXIMA: ALPHA was released back in February, and it was mostly solid. Right away the band introduced the fluidity and the psychedelic vibe that permeates through the rest Proxima, with a focus on clean transitions between songs and only a few remnants of the lyrical missteps of their early days. Read our full review of PROXIMA: ALPHA here.
After releasing the first EP, it wasn’t long before Little Bird shifted gears to part 2, Proxima: Beta, and right away it was clear that Beta was going to be even better than ALPHA.
Proxima: Beta dropped in June and yep, it’s even better. The band allows themselves to experiment even more freely with this second part, but both EPs still fit into the same musical realm. The whole thing is woven together in sequence by careful transitions between songs, just like ALPHA, and later Gamma, and was clearly meant to be listened to from front to back.
A few days before Proxima: Beta dropped it also became clear that Little Bird had caught some wider attention (not just from this lil’ music blog) when the single “who cares” landed them their first Spotify editorial playlist slot, on the Fresh Finds: Indie playlist.
One standout sleeper track from Beta is “Glden Hr (In The Tripl3 Suns)”, the longest song on all of Proxima, and perhaps the most experimental. It’s slow and groovy, with meandering guitar and synth leading the way with a melody that feels at least partially improvised. There a lot of changes in the vibe throughout, and the whole track feels like a journey in itself, representative of the overarching themes from the rest of the album.
If Little Bird shifted gears from ALPHA to Beta quickly, they went from Beta to Gamma at light speed (perhaps too fast?). It was just about three weeks after the release of Beta when Little Bird released “Are You Alright?”, the first Gamma single and the closing track to the entire shebang.
The Little Bird hype on a national scale did not end with that first editorial playlist slot, either. During the month or so leading up to the release of Gamma, which entered the world on September 23rd, Little Bird had several nuggets of success that point toward a bright future. They landed Apple Music playlist slots for “Are You Alright?” and the final single “Driftin”, and even recorded an Audiotree Live Session. Not to mention opening for SUSTO for a couple of sold out dates in Georgia.
Proxima: Gamma opens with “Mah.”, a track which has features that you didn’t even know you were looking for, from Charleston artists Abstract – that Rapper and hrlum. They have often collaborated with Abstract in the live setting, but this is the first time we’ve seen them collab on a studio album. hrlum brings some elegant female vocals to the mix, offering a nice change of pace from the rest of the album and a subtle reminder of the female vocals that were present on all of Familiar. hrlum is also featured on the next track, “Allways.”, along with Caminator, a.k.a. the talented young bassist Cameron Westcott of the Psycodelics.
By now it seems that my initial question about Little Bird has been answered: yes, they’ve made an album that is interesting enough to warrant its length and having been released in three parts. Over the course of this year they’ve turned me from somebody who might roll their eyes at Little Turd, thinking they were overrated, into a certified Little Bird fan.
While I do stand by all my former critiques of the band, I have to hand it them. Proxima is a damn good album. 8/10.