Birds are Better Release 1st Indie Folk Album ‘The Island: Part One’

Aiden Faire
Aiden Faire - Music Reviewer 6 Min Read

Norway’s own Stian Fjelldal’s new indie folk project Birds Are Better just released their debut album, The Island – Part One, a captivating blend of indie folk, electro, and pop, showcasing the artist’s emergence from a period of creative struggle. This album marks the first of a two-part series scheduled for release this year, with The Island capturing Fjelldal’s triumph over writer’s block and self-doubt.

Having made a notable impact on the Norwegian music scene since 2010, Fjelldal’s journey has seen him achieve radio hits like “Håbløs” and sign a record deal with Warner Music. However, after a string of successful releases, the artist found himself caught in a creative rut, questioning his own passion for his music.

In his refreshingly candid words, Fjelldal reflects on this period of introspection and doubt, which led him to reevaluate his own musical output:

“In January 2022, I released my fifth studio album, Hus. It felt okay, but not particularly great, despite all the work I had put into it. I was taken aback by my own lack of enthusiasm at the time, but I wasn’t particularly surprised either.”

This self-reflection led Fjelldal to question whether he would genuinely enjoy his own music if it were created by someone else. The unexpected answer was a resounding “No.”

However, The Island – Part One stands as a testament to Fjelldal’s renewed sense of creative freedom and resurgence. The album showcases his growth as a singer-songwriter and encompasses a wide range of emotions, from the exquisite to the melancholic, ultimately culminating in a celebration of life itself.

Birds Are Better The Island Part One cover

Listeners will be treated to a musical landscape that draws inspiration from the classics, such as Crosby, Stills & Nash and Simon and Garfunkel, while embracing contemporary influences like Fleet Foxes, The Flaming Lips, and Susanne Sundfør.

The album’s standout tracks, such as “Marigold,” demonstrate Fjelldal’s ability to craft beautiful melodies and evoke a profound sense of emotion. From the delicate acoustic guitar to the soaring vocal harmonies, each element comes together seamlessly to create an immersive and captivating experience.

“Seven In The Morning” kicks off the album with a captivating energy, setting the stage for what lies ahead, with a Simon and Garfunkel-esque folk style while “Super Highway” has a Mumford and Sons style. Tracks like “Super Highway” and “Fall,” the bubbly folk pop song, showcase Fjelldal’s ability to merge electronic elements with his folk-pop sensibilities, resulting in a fresh and modern sound.

“Marigold” carries a folk pop sound similar to that of Coldplay. It’s a beautiful story of the beauty that lies within the trapped or ugly. At the end, they pose the question “When I’m no longer human / What have I become instead?”

This leads into the next song “Nothing is Real When I’m Away From You,” the indie folk song about finding belonging. This song is utter poetry as it tackles what most of us most desire as they sing “Take me / I do not deserve to be around / Anymore / Hold me now / I don’t think that I can find the shore.”

The ballad “Island” continues the theme of belonging, though in more of a love story kind of way. It’s about finding your way through a scary world with someone you love by your side.

“Baby Blue,” almost has an Americana styling to it with a heavy folk base. You can absolutely hear a similarity to Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young in this song. The song emphasizes the relationship of two people and that their connection goes beyond mere numbers or quantity. The speaker expresses their commitment to protect the other person, referring to them as their “cornerstone” and “Baby Blue.” They acknowledge the presence of pain and shame, suggesting a sense of guilt or regret. The speaker professes their love, urging the other person to believe in its authenticity and asking them to understand their perspective.

As the album progresses, The Island – Part One takes listeners on a journey through introspection and self-discovery. Whether it’s the ethereal “Oh Mother,” a song about still needing your mom even while you’re grown up and seeking your own desires, or the introspective “All In The Past,” about the readiness to move forward, Fjelldal’s songwriting resonates with authenticity and vulnerability.

Another stand out song is “Fencing You In” because of it’s stark musical difference to the other songs on the album. Birds are Better lean into the electro and pop elements.

Overall, The Island – Part One is a remarkable debut from Birds are Better. With its diverse sonic palette and thought-provoking lyrics, this album will captivate fans of indie folk, electro, and pop alike. It serves as a testament to Fjelldal’s resilience and rekindled passion for his craft, promising a promising future for this talented Norwegian artist.

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By Aiden Faire Music Reviewer
I fell in love with music when I first picked up a guitar at age 8. When I played, my friends and family would smile and spill with joy over the music I played, even though it was never Grammy quality. While my music career never made it past high school, my love for music never waivered. I loved the feeling of bringing a smile to someone's face through music and wanted to keep that passion going. So, I took it upon myself to continue to support and promote artists by writing about their music. This way, I can support my personal passion for music and bring entertain and joy to others through music.  Outside my love for music, I do enjoy a good hike and being in the outdoors. My favorite place that I've hiked is in Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah. I love to travel too. I've been to Costa Rica, Vancouver, BC, and England, but the best place by far is Germany on Oktoberfest. I liken that experience to being in New Orleans on Mardi Gras. I like a good book now and then, but I'm more of a streaming fiend. I live for crime docuseries on Netflix, veterinary shows on National Geographic, and re-watching Scrubs on Hulu.