Emerging from the culturally rich landscape of Oxford, UK in 2017, Shaven Primates
are a five-piece band, pushing the boundaries of dark-wave, art-rock, and multiple forms of punk and drawing inspiration from a broad spectrum of artists, ranging from Velvet Underground to Prodigy to Pink Floyd.
After the success of their epic narrative album "Child Of Dirt", they felt a deep-seated urge to create a work of art reflecting the global chaos, from wars to disinformation to intolerance. As a result, "Birds Aren't Real", their latest album released on 28th July 2023, features five tracks delving into present-day issues and personal experiences such as dealing with the suicide of a dear one and the rough times faced by kids who think differently.
The album commences with "Fade Away", a haunting reflection on the burgeoning extremism within digital platforms, sparked by Nick Fuentes and Baked Alaska's dialogues with Louis Theroux. A distinctive fusion of late-era punk elements from the 70s and 80s with contemporary synth flair forms the backbone of the track, culminating in a poignant chorus that encapsulates the trials of our current era.
With a rolling motif conceptualised by guitarist Tom Clark serving as the musical incipit, the song evolves around it, complete with synth pads echoing in the distance, lending an air of melancholy to the vocals. The heavy drum and bass sections further contribute to an unorthodox, indelible rhythm, and as the soundscape expands, a wave of sonic density envelopes listeners. This escalating auditory wall mirrors an atmosphere of dread and subjugation, themes embedded deeply within the song's lyrics.
"A Decision" is a deeply bitter track born out of the aftermath of a suicide of someone dearly held, exploring the profound reverberations it had on their inner circle. The musical composition gravitates towards an atmospheric 80s style, intertwined with symphonic and orchestral nuances that portray the devastating consequences of the tragic incident.
In the track's sonic picture, a timbrally rich bass stands out, blending seamlessly with transparent guitars and synth textures. The vocals are painful and lonesome, enhancing the emotional depth of the song, while an innovative guitar solo adds a distinctive touch to the overall arrangement.
"Silicon Implants" serves as a commentary on contemporary events, drawing parallels with historical precedents to illustrate society's cyclic nature. It includes the lyric "Nazis Bad," aimed at highlighting the dilution of discourse on the internet, the justifications surrounding the conflict in Ukraine, and the present-day manipulation of language that turns conventional wisdom on its head and weaponises uncertainty.
References are made to Nietzsche for his misinterpreted role in igniting WWII, Aldous Huxley's influential work "Brave New World," which cautions against technological complacency, Rabia's paradoxical intentions in the Middle East resulting in a power-hungry dictatorship, and Kafka's predictive disdain for a society claiming omnipresence.
The sheer intensity of this song is portrayed through a relentless blues rhythm, rapid-fire vocals and a commanding bass rhythm compelling you to pay attention. The rhythm section, particularly the drums, undergo constant transformation, ranging from deadly stomps to militaristic marches, to resembling rapid gunfire. Vocals adopt a paradoxically touching, cartoonish tone that sends chills down one's spine. Despite leaving listeners with a disquieting resonance, the track intrigues, drawing you back for more.
"Unmasked" recounts two narratives: one of a past-era, undiagnosed autistic student struggling through incompatible education systems, and another of a diagnosed autistic student now receiving the requisite support. The song celebrates those who persevere through learning challenges, reassuring them they are not damaged but can find confidence in their unique identity. It features a gentle verse reflecting the ambiance of a schoolroom, while the chorus ascends, leaving an enduring impression. The mix is shrouded in a wall of resonant reverb, with every component occupying its distinct sonic space, underlining the isolation felt by the song's central characters.
"Birds Aren't Real" delves into the psyche of someone drawn to unconventional beliefs, featuring an unexpected but charming Spanish influence and a sudden punk-inspired burst in the chorus. The composition's detailed arrangement integrates a whimsical organ, layers of distorted guitars in the refrain, and follows a dynamic of alternating serene and intense passages.
"Birds Aren't Real" as an album paints a multifaceted portrait of the world through an eclectic blend of sounds, vocal approaches and song topics. It's a musical labyrinth, where each song is a corridor leading to another dimension of emotion or social commentary. The album is a sonic odyssey that keeps you hooked from start to finish, a fun and moving exploration of human experience in our crazy turbulent times.