Birthmarks, …And Then the Rain Stopped
If you’re looking for a perfect soundtrack of the human condition, look no further than London-based trio Birthmarks’ astonishing debut. …And Then the Rain Stopped is deceptive in its simplicity; masquerading as gentle and relaxing, this album soon morphs into a gorgeously layered monster, trapping you in a journey of sorrowful self-reflection. Birthmarks have crafted a truly liminal listening experience, one that slowly peels back your scalp and enchants your mind. If you’re looking for an album that only matures with each listen, then this debut is for you.
…And Then the Rain Stopped is haunting; it’s a ‘sentence you cannot escape’, in the words of deeply atmospheric opener How Do You Rule Me. As the opener unfolds, you’re dragged you into a realm of bittersweet, introspective art rock. Every strum of the guitar and glowing background instrumental builds, gradually disorienting you and plunging you further into Birthmarks’ hypnotising sound.
Certain tracks sound strangely nostalgic, a true sign of how genius this album can be. Night After Night After Night creates this nostalgic atmosphere, with disarming vocals and a twinkling backing track that slowly entrance you. It creates a world within your mind, ‘now go’ slowly echoing round your mind, drawing you in, encouraging a mindset of self-reflection.
Every second of this debut is masterfully layered – even the more quiet songs stop you in your tracks. Breathe is gentle, yet feels tinged with loss, an invisible ghost floating in the background. Wax, however, is arguably the most beautiful of the bunch. Eerie from start to finish, this track drips through your bones just like wax. It’s impressive how simple the track seems, only utilising an acoustic guitar and a slight echo, but the end result is an unsettlingly gorgeous track that simultaneously lasts forever and ends too soon.
That being said, Birthmarks definitely aren’t scared to be loud. Eclipse (Empty Shell) creeps up on you, building a vast, echoing soundscape before throwing you into an overwhelming segment of wildly churning guitars and filtered industrial whirring. The powerfully loud moment stands out remarkably, conveying the sensation of obsessing over loss and how it can entirely corrupt the mind and senses.
A few tracks feel very reminiscent of Foals, for any indie rock fans out there. This similarity lies in the style of guitar and vocal performance in certain songs; Midnight Blue and You Are One in particular holds this energy, what with their electronic elements and sonically bright chorus. However, these guys are definitely more bleak than Foals, with a sound more raw, baring and honest.
…And Then the Rain Stopped is an album that keeps on giving – with each listen you uncover more of the album’s intricacies. If you’re looking for an album that will burrow its way into your mind, then you shouldn’t waste any time. Birthmarks have created an album that stays with you – even after you’ve hit pause, it will continue floating through your mind.