Mimicking Birds’ leader Nate Lacy pens songs of unparalleled beauty and wisdom. Listen to his band’s first two records and you’ll understand. As for now, the Portland, Oregon indie-rock group is poised to release their third album, Layers of Us, on January 26. It will be their first in four years, following the painstakingly gorgeous and rhythmically languid, Eons. Over the course of three albums, spanning eight years, Mimicking Birds have been a part of the Glacial Pace Recordings family. The label is headed by no other than Modest Mouse frontman Isaac Brock. With Layers of Us, Lacy takes his austere songwriting prowess and melancholy melodies to new heights. The leap in the band’s wall of sound has developed significantly over the past two released records. At 10 tracks and 43 minutes in length, Layers of Us navigates through a celestial sonic direction, with brooding undertones and storytelling that offers distinctive humanistic tales.
Layers of Us feels to move considerably quicker than the previous efforts. However, it’s still a richly, deliberately paced, multi-layered body of work akin to past work. Lacy and company are still patient like a forest, crafting atmospheric compositions and dynamic melodies that will stimulate their listeners. One of the shortest tracks in length, “Sunlight Daze” (3:10), is a mesmerizing stunner to say the least. This powerful single embodies an indie-rock spirit with the synergy of spacy synth arrangements. The song not only feels different than the band’s other repertoire, but one of the most unique tracks this soundscape has had in a very long sometime. The cosmic vibes along with the lyrics; Sunlight, it’s a new day / Made it to anywhere, in and out of your own maze / Sunlight ends the dark /Saw the rest of you walking along where you would embark, is something to deeply marvel at.
The track “A Part” is the closest resemblance to Mimicking Birds’ signature sound found on previous albums. It features banjo and slide guitar, giving it a folky style that was more prominent on Eons and their self-titled debut. On Layers of Us, there’s a broader sound to be heard, one that takes the listener to different realms, soundspheres, and places/times. The instrumentation of “Island Shore” is wistful yet surprisingly uplifting. It’s an alluring record, that’s synth-rich, yet feels authentic and natural. Isaac Brook comes on board to share his voice in the final minute of the song. It takes an unlikely path those final moments where Brock offers a stark difference to Lacy’s fragile vocals with a much more ominous delivery. “Belongings” is another highlight off the record, bringing multifaceted rhythms along with astute songwriting about love.
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“Lumens” is just over six minutes in duration, but the journey it has to offer is worth exploring. The flourishing melodies, fingerpicking acoustic guitar riffs, and lavish echoes of “Lumens” bring a breathtaking backdrop to Lacy’s acutely ponderous and intricate songwriting. It’s another song leaving its listener astounded by all its elements. It’ll give you the feels with each and every listen. In fact, that can be said for most of this record. Layers of Us explores tones and themes left unsaid on Mimicking Birds’ other albums. It’s easy to say this is Mimicking Birds’ magnum opus. The album puts Mimicking Birds in a different light, a light that shines not only luminously, but also through those willing to take these songs for a ride. Layers of Us has Mimicking Birds building a majestic bridge from their sacred, personal place over to one’s own private area of the all-encompassing mind, body, heart, and spirit.