BEST OF 2016

MAGNET’s #23 Album Of 2016: Bird Of Youth’s “Get Off”


Beth Wawerna wrote the songs on Get Off during one of the most trying periods of her life. She was taking care of her father, who was dying of cancer, and after he passed, her anguish overwhelmed her. She slipped into depression and dealt with her feelings by writing the songs that make up this album. The music is rock, but it’s played with a restrained intensity that honors the emotional force of the lyrics. Wawerna uses the phrasing of a jazz singer, drawing out her vowels and inserting her words into the melodies before, after and against the rhythm. This almost somnambulant approach intensifies the lyrics’ emotional effect. The poignant melodies she crafted with guitarist Clint Newman reverberate on a deep level, and like all great songs, they sound like something you’ve heard all your life, even though you know you’re hearing it for the first time. “Passing Phase,” a mid-tempo tune that suggests New Order playing California surf-guitar licks, deals with the feelings of alienation that allow us to engage in self-destructive behavior, while “Bitter Filth” is a violent, aggressive, Clash-like punk tune that expresses the anger that’s often at the heart of grief and remorse.

—j. poet