by Phillipe Roberts
No Sorry, the long-awaited tape-de- force from Boston darlings Birthing Hips, is packed with thrills from end to end, but even the mightiest tape can't contain the downright ridiculous amount of personality on display when these four kooks collide live. I vividly remember the night of their tape release show, when a swaying Carrie Furniss deadpanned into the microphone, “This is our Stairway To Heaven,” a single glimmering cymbal tap rang out, and the Hips dove beneath the aquatic bass-and- guitar riff of “Up Ramp.” Right away the comparison fell apart: delicate guitar plucks from Wendy Eisenberg twisted and spun in an elegant, if slightly seasick, dance with Andres Abenante’s slippery bass, trading “Stairway”’s ever-building ascent for a gloomy descent into bitter murkiness. Owen Winter is shuffling snake-like on drums underneath, but suddenly a howling “FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK”, thunderous drum rolls rattle in, titanic chords slap into place and the band charges out of the gate and takes flight. Even in headphones, the track is a dazzling display of Birthing Hips’ knack for mining seemingly mismatched sounds and tonalities and blasting them into orbit to glorious, and often hilarious, effect without ever being above a blazing guitar solo. This is, after all, a band that caps off a jam like “Up Ramp”, with the breathy line “Reach around to Heaven/Reach around, to heaven.” Its smashed-up pop that’ll bust your gut.
Recorded over a year ago at this point, it’s hard to say if No Sorry is still an accurate map of what I imagine to be in the maze-like musical mind of Birthing Hips. And yet, it is impossible not to marvel at the agility with which the four of them leap from idea to idea, as well as their ingenuity in tying it all together with nothing short of miraculous grace. Take “Audrey,” – a militant stutter step courtesy of Winter, filthy modulated harmonized sludge from Eisenberg and Abenante, and Furniss’ rollercoaster vocals, all sliding around in the mud. Eventually you are zapped with a frighteningly catchy guitar melody that’ll have you punching the air in glee; here, and especially in the full band call-and-response of “Sex Bias,” the band are just so cheerfully violent, so adoringly willing to sock you in the funny bone, that you can’t help but be captured under their giddy spell.
The band simply can’t seem to help itself when it comes to goofing around, sprinkling absurdities over even the poppiest moments on No Sorry. The main guitar riff of “What Am I Today?” creeps in softly, oozing this slow and easy rambling quality reminiscent of the finest Kinks jams, but then the drums crackle, the floor thumps out from beneath your feet, the guitar slides seemingly off the face of the earth and you’re soaring above the ground with Carrie and everything just feels right.
Right alongside “rock” and “normcore” in their bandcamp genre tags, the band promises “noisey defective pop,” but dammit if I haven’t felt healed every time the clinking, clattering guitar glitches that open “Hello Hello” start up, or been sent smiling down the street by the surrealist funk of “Dog.” No Sorry speaks to the disjointed, insane feelings at the heart of the very best pop. Given that their second effort is already on the way, catch a glimpse of these fearsome freakazoids as soon as you can.