Portland stalwarts Mimicking Birds’ lush and melancholic third LP, Layers of Us, sounds like winter. While delicate arpeggiated melodies finger pick their way around spacy synth flourishes, you can almost imagine singer Nate Lacy looking out over the city from Mount Tabor, his visible breath spreading out like reverb toward this year’s crisp and sun-bright winter sky. The featherlight guitar and synth work are artfully orchestrated to weave in and out of each other, creating multi-instrumental melodies that might float off to space if they weren’t tethered to Earth by a hooky and sophisticated rhythm section.
Fans of Mimicking Birds’ previous work will rejoice in finding much of what they liked about the groups first two records on Layers of Us. The same general vibe of brooding beauty is produced with thoughtful and melancholic vocals accompanied by atmospheric instrumentation, but there are more layers of that instrumentation, ultimately giving the record a less sparse sound overall. With the exception of “A Sound,” which features banjo and slide guitar, this record also has a less folksy feel than the band’s first two full-lengths. On those records, a relatively naked acoustic guitar and piano predominated, and while both instruments are present on Layers of Us, they have a more affected sound that downplays their natural acoustic quality.
Lacy first started Mimicking Birds in the aughts as an outlet for his solo work, catching the attention of Isaac Brock of Modest Mouse, who took him under his wing as a producer and released the band’s first two records on his imprint, Glacial Pace Recordings. On Layers of Us, Brock doesn’t act as producer, but makes an appearance as a performer on “Island Shore,” invoking the freakiest mood on the record with some dark and heavily affected vocals.
Layers of Us comes out January 26, roughly halfway through a month-long tour with fellow Portland indie allstars Typhoon.