Bird Of Youth is: Beth Wawerna, Clint Newman, Ben Lord, Johnny North, Kenny Wachtel
Did you ever want to burn down your whole life? Just burn the fucker right down to the ground and start over all over again?
On Bird Of Youth's wrenching and inescapably gripping new full-length Get Off, Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter Beth Wawerna arrives, matches in hand, at a life perched on ruin.
Following on the heels of 2011's debut Defender, Get Off is the second album from Bird Of Youth, released after five years of tribulation, tragedy, missteps and false starts. Midway through the process of rendering the follow up, Beth's father unexpectedly passed away, sending her into a spiral of self-doubt and self-destruction. Some wretched person once advised "eat, pray, love" as the prescription for a life gone off the rails. Bird Of Youth proposes something more like "drink, drug, fuck."
Get Off's ride is at once harrowing and exhilarating, fraught with the wreckage of lost youth and lost life, long narcotic nights and dreams hanging in the balance. From the Imperial Bedroom-style confessional snapshot of "Passing Phase," to the unstoppably catchy kiss-off "Sons & Daughters," to the psychedelic strung-out/freak-out of "Burn," Get Off is both reflective and reactive – a trial by ordeal and self-realization through personal annihilation. As a document of a single season in hell, Get Off is reminiscent of similar breakthrough-by-way-of-breakdown albums like Big Star's Sister Lovers and Harry Nilsson's Pussycats – albums whose total vulnerability both draw you in and leave a bruise.
Whether she's daring to be great or daring to be gone – lashing out or looking in – the high stakes of Beth's songs never feel less than fully engrossing. Like Joan Didion set to the beat of The Pretenders, Bird Of Youth's late night tales seduce you with fantasy and send you home chastened but satisfied. With lines like, "She fakes for dates and they take the bait but she makes them wait for old time's sake / She hates, she breaks and then she leaves," Beth sketches shattered characters that you earnestly root for as they grope through the void for the thing that will fix them – even if it's just a fix. Reflecting the tough dealing of its author, Get Off is both a first person account from an island of grief and the halting first steps towards a new beginning.
This is Bird Of Youth's first release since signing to Kiam Records alongside critical favorites Jennifer O'Connor and Amy Bezunartea. Delivering on the promise of its predecessor, Get Off represents the full flowering of Beth as a singular voice. Abetted by stunning arrangements from lead guitarist, co-producer and main collaborator Clint Newman, crackerjack performances from the rhythm section of Johnny North and Ben Lord and expert mixing from John Agnello (Sonic Youth. Kurt Vile, Breeders) and Phil Palazzolo (Ted Leo, Neko Case), Get Off is a sonic triumph commensurate with its emotional impact.
–– Elizabeth Nelson