Kevin Hambrick has been a staple in the Midwest music scene for 20 years, leading the indie rock charge in both The Orange Opera and as a solo artist. Regardless of which project Hambrick is writing in and for, the sound is decidedly Hambrick.
With his solo work Kevin Hambrick handles all the band duties and there’s a more personal feel to these albums. Serotonin, Turtle Wagon, Mox Nix, and Clitter and the Clatter overflow with power pop and singer/songwriter energy, while having a heavy heartedness at times. John Lennon, Big Star, and even touches of Robyn Hitchcock and the Egyptians come thru with Kevin’s solo albums.
Talking Birds is Kevin’s latest album, and his first since 2019s Clitter and the Clatter. It feels like a post-Covid album, and one I think is greatly needed now. Jangly guitars, touches of keys, Hambrick’s unmistakable vocals, and a sense of waking from some weird and sometimes lonely two year dream is present. It’s a wonderful and earnest pop album. A welcome return of one of the Midwest’s finest.
The album opens on the jangle of the 60s pop-inspired “Bits and Pieces”, complete with tinkling guitars, stacked vocals, and Hambrick’s penchant for an earworm hook. It has touches of the Beatles, Raspberries, and Red Kross when they went full-on power pop. “Lucky Day” keeps those vibes going, with slight psychedelic touches that makes the song ever so wobbly. “Freeze” feels different. Hazy strings, distorted vocals, and a sort of dreamy melancholy puts this song on a whole other level. This is the magic of Kevin Hambrick, he takes all of these influences and makes them all his own. He’s a singular talent, churning this sort of cosmic pop from the middle of nowhere.
Throughout Talking Birds Kevin Hambrick lays out song after song of what would have been AM-ready hits if Talking Birds dropped in 1972 instead of 2022. From the blues-tinged “Talking Birds” and “Good Thing” to the Plastic Ono Band-esque “Easy To See” and the country stomp of album closer “Terrified(we’d all like to etc.)”, Hambrick drops these nearly perfect pop rock confections that aren’t too sweet, but just sweet enough.
Talking Birds is a standout from one of the Midwest’s finest. Melodies for miles, buzzing guitars, and just the right amount of melancholy between the lines to make this more than just a good album, but a great one.