March 1, 2021

We now come to the much anticipated sixth album by BirdPen, an eclectic English rock duo formed by Dave Penn and Mike Bird in 2003. The band seems to operate at the edge of the cultural mainstream and remain an underground delight that will one day, surely, dine at the top table. They have an intriguing sound that is the sum of many parts being electronic, indie and post-rock but progressive rock is incorporated into their sound too. I first became aware of them on 2019’s There’s Something Wrong With Everything which I found to be an absolutely delightful album which I described as being something of a cross between The Pineapple Thief, Radiohead and Mogwai and those comparisons still stand although you can now add No-Man, Nosound, Tim Bowness and Steven Wilson into the mix too.

All Function One is now the latest album in their blossoming career, which also includes a number of EPs in their earlier days, and is another fine record which, obviously, builds on all of the fine work that has gone before. Dave Penn provides the vocals, guitar and keyboards with Mike Bird also supplying guitar and keyboards. They are a gentle and reflective rock band with an always pleasing collection of fine songs that really do fall into the Pineapple Thief camp and they know how to make the music eclectic yet commercial with a pleasing sound, great vocals harmonies and hooks that are sublime and gorgeous. Incidentally, you may already be aware of Dave Penn as he is also the singer and guitarist with the long lived London based post-rock/progressive rock band Archive.

All Function One is another of those albums that the band started working on in the pre-Covid world and the events of the last year have very much affected the lyrics and tone of the record as themes of loneliness, paranoia and alienation have infiltrated into the music as they have in the lives of everyone in the crazy world we all now live in. The lyrics are bleak but the beautiful, dreamy and ambient score seems to soothe away the negative images to leave an overall feeling of hope, desire and, above all else, a knowledge that we will persevere. The twelve tracks on the album seem to blend smoothly into one, glorious whole and the mellowness of the music and the somewhat ambient feel makes this a cerebral work that satisfies on so many different levels. The work is a triumph of epic proportions and a totally delightful way to chill out albeit to a most serious lyrical background but the laid back, exquisite songs and beautiful delivery of Bird and Pen will have you in chilled Heaven soon enough. If you are a fan of the more restrained and laid back works of No-Man then BirdPen will absolutely delight you and they will surely grow to greater prominence in the rock world.

You cannot keep talent of this level down forever and The Pineapple Thief should be an inspiration to all bands, they flew under the RADAR for long enough but when you have the talent you will succeed, it’s just a matter of time. Give this fine album several listens and allow it to sink into your subconscious mind and you will be greatly rewarded with a wonderful, life-affirming and reflective masterpiece.

All Function One track list

  1. Function (5:24)
  2. Life In Design (4:20)
  3. Modern Junk (4:13)
  4. Shakes (2:49)
  5. Seat 35 (5:00)
  6. Blackhole (2:31)
  7.  Flames (5:12)
  8. Otherside (3:36)
  9. Changes (2:42)
  10. Universe (2:43)
  11. Invisible (4:06)
  12. Undone (6:19)