• Record Label: 4AD
  • Release Date: Nov 17, 2009

Generally favorable reviews - based on 8 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 8 out of 8
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 8
  3. Negative: 0 out of 8
  1. In far fewer listens than you'd expect, BiRd-BrAiNs sheds its outer shell of defensive harshness and becomes an easy, enjoyable and addictive listen.
  2. On this record, Merril Garbus manages the impressive feat of condensing much of the decade’s more interesting musical trends into one very well delivered tapestry.
  3. If you relish a challenge, and like music to brace you as much as entertain you, then this should fit the bill. Like no-one else very much, but very much herself, it is one woman's raw, open and compelling testament.
  4. The sonic restrictions Garbus imposed on herself make the songs sound found rather than written, and her darting ear for a source--you can easily hear this as world music--transforms them into something akin to field recordings from everywhere, melodies tumbling over each other, jolting from one place to another.
  5. Few debut albums are audacious enough to call to mind Odetta, M.I.A., and the Raincoats--often all at the same time--but this is just such a rare bird.
  6. Garbus’s peculiarities are often quite charming--often, not always, because there’s only so much so-called cute we can be expected to tolerate, and though Bird-Brains remains on the side of acceptability, it flies dangerously close to the line (er, wire).
  7. For all of BiRd-BrAiNs’ quick sonic and melodic digressions, along with Garbus’ tendency to be vocally abrasive and erratically tempered more often than not, most listeners will still find that the primary obstacle to enjoying this record begins and ends with the method of its recording.
  8. The sub-demo quality's most annoying attribute is the blocky digital clipping that happens whenever the voice recorder is overloaded, which is often. So if you don't have a tolerance for cut-rate sonics--and this isn't even the warm analog stuff--forget about it. But if you do, the best songs on BiRd-BrAiNs can sneak up on you.
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 16 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 1 out of 1
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 1
  3. Negative: 0 out of 1
  1. Aug 24, 2014
    Despite its logical lo-fi flaws and controversies, BiRd-BrAiNs functions clearly well since we find heavily complicated song structures thatDespite its logical lo-fi flaws and controversies, BiRd-BrAiNs functions clearly well since we find heavily complicated song structures that are, at the same time, very easy to comprehend and acquire. And everything turns even better with Merrill's exquisite and schizophrenic voice mixing effortlessly with an established and cohesive set of songs. An audacious and successful debut album. Full Review »