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Eric Frisch has studied 60s pop, and he’s studied it well. His new album’s title, Goodbye Birdcage, is a reference to leaving Toronto for New York, and it’s a fitting reference because it sounds here like he flew out of a birdcage and into the legendary Brill Building. Almost every element of 60s music has been filtered into a modern setting, from the choral mastery of The Beach Boys, to Motown, The Kinks, The Velvet Underground, and even slight traces of The Band and the late-60s roots-revival on the title track, “Goodbye Birdcage.”
It seems as if he has taken influence from Ray Davies and Lou Reed in a way similar to Jonathan Richman. A song like “Telephone” has elements similar to “Sunday Morning” but they lyrics are so much more innocent and sweeter. He seems comfortable in whatever context, however, from the stripped intimacy of “Learn to Swim” or the bombastics of a choir and horns on “The Sun In Santiago” or “Pretty Girls”.
Frisch is a modern day Van Dyke Parks. He loves so many aspects of a certain era of music, he often doesn’t know where he’s going, but there’s such personality and intelligence, the wavering path ends up charmingly whimsical and endearing. The production is extremely lo-fi at times, sounding as if you’re listening to it from one end of a long hall while it’s been played at the other, but the sounds, textures, and density he’s managed to achieve makes one wonder what he’d be able to pull of with a bottomless budget. Goodbye Birdcage is an album on a grand scale that never disappoints.
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