Home > 2) Music & Film > Album Review: Bic Runga – Birds (2005)

Album Review: Bic Runga – Birds (2005)


Over the last six months, I’ve noticed a serious shift in the styles of music that turn me on. Again, I’m forced to attribute much of this evolutionary shift to my emusic account forcing me to listen to music I might not have paid much attention to had I been given the choice to ignore it.

However, there are certain albums and artists who just seem to come out of nowhere. My previous crush album, “O” by Damien Rice is one such album, and so is this, Birds by Bic Runga.

How I found this album:

This is a good one, even for me.

I was looking for a photo of a Biro for a project and of course, typed in Bic, being the quintessential Biro manufacturer and was presented with the following images in Google.

And there it was, Bic Runga’s photo! The face of a woman this gorgeous naturally stood out when arranged alongside the random, moodily lit images of pens, lighters and machine parts I came across. Feeling obliged to click on the image, I found a favourable review of her latest album.

Intrigued at seeing an Asian face on an English language album review I decided to go to her website at

www.bicrunga.com which quite spectacularly, has entire songs of hers for playback!

Impressions

OMFG what a voice and what an atmosphere. It’s like Karen Carpenter and Tanya Chua meet Sarah Nixey and Cat Power in a diner. Immediately, I rushed over to emusic to see if they had it for download, and they did!

I consider the threshold for a worthwhile album when it has three keepers on it. That’s generally because a full album is three times the price of a single here in Japan. An album with five songs on it is a gem… but to have no less than eight tracks that I’m completely in love with is a record breaker for me. 

Her songs start out promising very little, some reverb laden guitar rolls in with a spot of high hat and light backing of rimshot, duping the listener into thinking he’s listing to country and western. The first inkling one gets that this is something entirely different is when her sublime voice drifts in along with a raft of sultry classical strings, transforming the songs, causing them to blossom into pieces of pure beauty.

And just when you think it can’t get any better, Bic hits you with a full, satisfying chorus and you’re hooked. 

Bic Runga is without doubt an absolute master of the perfect chorus. Within a month of buying this album, it has become my all time number one played album and Bic Runga my number one played artist since I joined Last FM and started to trust them to keep hold of my playing stats.

From the curiously addictive Winning Arrow with its close-miked recording and fabulous resonance through to It’s Over, a laid back sultry number, virtually the entire album is a keeper.

Track Listing

  1. Winning Arrow
  2. Say After Me
  3. Listen
  4. Birds
  5. Ruby Nights
  6. No Crying No More
  7. If I Had You
  8. Captured
  9. That’s Alright
  10. Blue Blue Heart
  11. It’s Over

And as the icing on the cake, the album comes with five live recordings which somehow sound even better than the studio versions above.

This is as near to perfection as mere mortals can get, and she’s directed, produced and recorded herself just for our enjoyment.

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Categories: 2) Music & Film Tags: ,
  1. Randy
    November 5, 2008 at 10:37 am

    I also found her by accident. After checking out a few tunes the next day I bought all 3 albums.

    I love “Say after me”! I wish I could see her live. Her music is gold.

  2. nanchatte
    November 18, 2008 at 10:44 am

    Randy, thx for the comment.

    I can’t recommend the Christchurch Syphony Orchestra album enough, if you can get it.

    If you think she sounds good in the studio, hear how she sounds with a full orchestra behind her!

    The highlights of the album are the very interesting rearrangements of her most popular pieces and -in my opinion the pièce de résistance- a highly unlikely cover of Bob Dylan’s One More Cup of coffee.

    Puts an interesting interpretation on the whole thing, having a woman as gorgeous as Runga sing the song.

    Un-effing-believable, mate.

    Have you tried her sister Boh’s band, Stellar*?
    Although they are decidedly mainstream and very poppy, they have a few smart, edgy tracks… Violent, Every Girl, Part of Me, Undone.

    Their very entertaining vids can be found on Youtube, and Boh, with died red hair is very saucy indeed!

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