This ‘Mynabirds’ article was written by Matty Ayre, a GIGsoup contributor
Lovers Know is Laura Burhenn’s third LP as The Mynabirds and was recorded after the artist embarked on a year of exploration, following a world tour with the Postal Service in 2013. Lovers Know is a collection of beautifully produced songs, finding Burhenn at her most introspective and soulful and her own recent experiences have clearly influenced the direction and sound of The Mynabirds.
The Mynabirds latest effort is refreshingly minimalist in its sound and sits somewhere between the lo-fi electro pop of Polica and the haunting balladry of Lana Del Rey. This is a record tinged with sadness as Burhenn dwells over failed relationships, but one that also offers a wider sense of optimism. Burhenn’s voice is well suited to the slow burning synth melodies that feature heavily on this record and guitars have been used sparingly, giving way to a more electronic sound that also draws on R&B influences. The album works because Burhenn’s voice swells with fragility and heartache, yet sounds overwhelmingly powerful against the backdrop of glacial analogue synths.
‘Wildfire’ perhaps exemplifies the euphoric feel of the record, with Burhenn triumphantly singing ‘’into the night, we’re burning, into the night, into the night.’’ Distorted synth lines pulsate against a lurching bassline that carries the song and it is clear that Burhenn’s lyrics reference her time spent reflecting on life and love whilst away from home. On ‘Shake Your Head Yes,’ Burhenn’s voice shivers over a simple drum machine, before a robotic synth arpeggio brings the song to life. Her warm textured voice is entrancing and perfectly complements the new found electronic sound that accompanies this LP. ‘One Foot’ is another highlight. Again, lush synthesizer tones carry the song, with reverb laden guitars hidden lower in the mix. The guitar lines on this track are reminiscent of the type of sombre riffs that made the XX famous and the male/female partnership is similarly replicated with Patrick Damphier, the bands bassist, providing droning backing vocals.
‘Say Something’ forges into 1980’s synthpop territory and again features Damphier’s vocals in the chorus. The snare drum is typically reverb-laden whilst the synth swirls climatically. The penultimate track ‘Hanged Man’ is perhaps the most downbeat song on the record, with the track building soft layers on top of each other until the song intensifies with a heartfelt instrumental outro. After a few listens, it’s certainly a grower.
Lovers Know would not look out of place as the soundtrack to a 1980s teen movie and this is not necessarily a bad thing. The record is no doubt influenced by the likes of Kate Bush and Sinead O’Connor but it also offers something original and unique, whilst never feeling dated. Burhenn’s brooding vocal performances are thoroughly compelling whilst her lyrics are sincere and intimate. Lovers Know is very much a personal record to Burhenn but it is arguably her most accessible. The artist admitted she spent time trying to find herself before the making of this record and it is clear that she has also discovered a new approach to crafting songs. Lovers Know is a drastic departure from the 60’s indebted soul that featured on Generals but it is a welcome addition to the synthpop genre.