Home is Where - I Became Birds (Cover Artwork)

Home is Where

I Became Birds (2021)

Father/Daughter Records

Emo is always evolving. If you ask twenty people for the definition of the word, you'll likely hear twenty distinct answers. Some will give you the mall answer with visuals of dyed-black hair and and insulting takes on screamo. Old schools folks will talk about Rites of Spring or Sunny Day Real Estate. No matter your definition, if you are a fan of the genre, Home is Where will scratch an itch of some kind.

The band is from Northeast Florida, an unlikely home for a band that has had their 2021 release I Became Birds end up on best of lists from the likes of Pitchfork, Stereogum, and the even the Washington Post. The first thing that stands out is the length. The whole thing checks in with just 6 songs totaling a tad over 19 minutes. However, this is not like a Gulch record, or a Minor Threat 7 inch where you blink and it's over, this still feels like an album

Frontperson Brandon McDonald is what you notice next. The comparisons to Jeff Mangum of Neutral Milk Hotel are all over the internet and are impossible to ignore. There is a comfort in their voice that should win some admirers. Similarly to NMH, there is a coziness in their voice that is endearing and disarming. However, as the record lurches forward, McDonald's vocal range and variety is showcased. Their scream is legit. Over the course of these 19 minutes, you will hear elements of punk, folk, and hardcore. The fact that the band can touch on so many styles musically in that timeframe AND have it all tie together is a true testament to the talent of the ensemble.

Lyrically there is a lot to digest. McDonald has stated in interviews that the album is about their gender transition and took years to write. It includes some staggering imagery that is both beautiful, funny, and demoralizing. Point is, this can be an album you enjoy for just the sounds, or, you can really dig in and explore the imagery and meaning of the lyrics.