At Swim Two Birds

By - Jun 1st, 2003 02:52 pm
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By Michael Seidel

“I stare of your face and I don’t know the first word to say.”

With uncertainty — that’s how At Swim Two Birds’ record Quigley’s Point starts off. And that initial utterance sets the mood for the entire record.

At Swim Two Birds is Roger Quigley, the vocal half of English cult figures The Montolfier Brothers. In 1998, Quigley — letting his surname stand in place of a proper “band” name — released, via France’s Acetone label, a record of semi-muffled brilliance called 1969 Till God Knows When. After that, he fell silent, presumably to focus on writing, recording and touring with The Montgolfier Brothers.

Now Quigley’s back, with a new moniker nabbed from a classic of Irish literature, picking up more or less where he left off. But it’s hard to ignore the fact that the structure and fidelity of his songs have been greatly influenced and improved by his affiliation with The Montgolfier Brothers. The songs, like TMB songs, are stark and unflinchingly honest. Instrumental parts repeat almost into hypnosis, but before they teeter over the brink, they’re lurched back into cerebral groundedness by the lyrics. Oh God, the lyrics! “All I want / all I need is the sun that warms the air I breathe / I am missing you / I’ll get over you.” Whenever anything is so simple, realistic and aching, poetry is can’t help but ooze from it.

Despite all the uncertainty that continually pokes the surface of the songs, Quigley’s Point can’t help but convey a mood of optimism because, after all, if the glass is half empty, the only reasonable thing to do is fill it up again.

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