Everything about the cover art of Tweak Bird‘s eponymous début album screams “hipster rock”. Late seventies/early eighties retro typography? Check. Topless dudes having fun on black and white film (or at least a digital image processed to look like such) while sporting beards and glasses which I’m sure belonged to my father around the time I started primary school? Check. This could be heaven or this could be hell, as The Eagles once sang.
But you know what? Somehow, it works. Tweak Bird are a duo, one on drums and one on baritone guitar, and unlike a lot of American Apparel-wearing bands who claim to make “heavy pop music”, these guys really seem to be doing exactly that. It’s dumb and lumpen stuff, sure, but despite the prevailing fashion for deliberate ineptitude as an artistic statement, dumb music can be good fun when it’s done earnestly. Think of early Kyuss, for instance, which was about as heavy as anything else at the time, not to mention brazenly, shamelessly, shit-eating-grinningly dumb… but they pulled it off because they loved the thing they were sending up more than their sending up of it (if that makes any sense). What connects Tweak Bird and Kyuss is that very attitude, I think; rather than skulking about behind basic music skills masquerading as ironic cultural detachment, Tweak Bird are plainly just having a whole shit-load of fun writing daft loud Neanderthal guitar riffs and endearingly naïve and optimistic vocals. Inviting your mate in to doodle around on a saxophone for three minutes at a time (“A Sun / Ahh Ahh”, “Distant Airways”) is probably an added bonus.
I’m not going to make any grandiose claims here; fun as Tweak Bird is to listen to, I can’t really see its Pixies-meets-stoner-riffola-on-a-sugar-high stylings becoming a regular fixture on my playlist (though I wouldn’t want to rule it out, either). But what’s pretty plain to hear is that they’re making music for the love of the music itself… if you can listen to the wide-eyed “Sky Ride” and not smile, not even a little bit, then you’re a more cynical hard-hearted bastard than even I am (and that’s saying something). Noisy dumb pop done with passion has been a bit thin on the ground of late, and I’m hoping Tweak Bird might be the sharp end of a wedge of change. Fingers crossed, eh?