Like a once closely shielded secret that is now beginning to trickle out, a select few may have already heard the name of Birthmarks within the alternative DIY echelon. However, much like such a secret, it won’t be long now until Birthmarks are a rampant point of topical conservation - a discussion the band will incite with their forthcoming debut full length.
Self-released this Friday ...And Then The Rain Stopped is a deeply bare and intimate documentation of loss, mental health, sex and anxiety. Whilst such a sentiment could be applied to an endless myriad of releases, what separates this record from the ever multiplying hordes is how Birthmarks authentically animate such lyrical themes. Through the use of trip-hop beats, subtle electronics and introspectively raw emo, Birthmarks ensure such topics are animated and tangibly cinematic. Like a modern arthouse film noir, the artistic styling of this record is its primary selling point. Thankfully, unlike some arthouse products, this record is highly accessible.
Beneath its balanced timbre and polished synthetics, there’s a dark and grime speckled neon aesthetic underpinning this record, one that blankets the album and provides its edge. ‘How You Rule Me’ - one of the first tracks Birthmarks ever released - saunters with suave slyness before seductively dancing with intelligent and scantly dressed dissonance. Such an element of suggestive provocativeness continues into the throbbing and pulsating synth beat of the sensual ‘Midnight Blue’, a track that drapes itself in flirtatious sonic velvet that hints of a hidden fatal romance.
From such a stylistic aesthetic, it’s clear this record is a product of after hours affairs and hidden metropolitan indulgence, one that revolves around unhealthy relationships with forbidden forms of escapism. It's a record best enjoyed whilst walking introspectively beneath the cold street lights late after hours, something proven with the seductive synths of ‘You Are One’, the brilliant key laced acid pop of ‘Night After Night After Night’ and the apocalyptic classic Muse tint of 'One Pulse'.
Whilst its aesthetic will be enough to draw plenty in, one of the key elements of ...And Then The Rain Stopped is the vocal efforts of frontman Daniel Cross. Fluttering ethereally within the lightweight mix, brazen and unfiltered human emotion is channeled in a way that carries heft without adding sagging weight to such work. As Cross details loss and failed love, there’s stark resignation within his voice, the kind that that has slowly metamorphosed from anger, grief, melancholia and bitterness. The authenticity within his lyricism is composed and considered; it’s not something written in a moment of heated emotion, as proven within the key led motifs of ‘Pale’ and the surprising acidic freakout featuring ‘Eclipse’.
But, to return to the arthouse film analogy, this is a release that will require multiple listens in order to be fully understood and appreciated. It's certainly not a release that one can slap and enjoy before discarding. It’s meditative, cinematically artful and there are times when the detail becomes less vivid; especially when compared to some of the record’s more flamboyant moments. This production, great in itself, could have done with just some more time in the cutting room to be more concise, but it’s far from an issue that greatly hinders it.
In all, ...And Then Rain Stopped is a record birthed from late night encounters intended for after hour moments of meditation. A record swathed with neon lit aesthetics and well considered poetry, It’s a release ideal to bask in repeatedly and one that rewards those with tempered patience. The scene may be in a bizarre way right now, but rest assured, Birthmarks will make themselves known to many with this release.
...And Then The Rain Stopped is self-released March 27th. You can pre-order the record here.