Birdy Nam Nam: Defiant Order

Three albums in, Paris’s Birdy Nam Nam ought to have a pretty good idea who they are. Pone, Lil’ Mike, Crazy B and DJ Need have spent over ten years synthesising their individual identities, subsuming them into the collective self. All Defiant Order’s cuts bear writing credits to all four Birdy Nam Nams. Such single-mindedness has resulted in an album with little light and shade, without an arc. Individually, tracks work. And work a treat. But as an album Defiant Order is a hamster on a treadmill: energy expended, without reaching a conclusion.
Birdy Nam Nam deal in a hard-edged, mostly instrumental house, coloured with techno and rave-style highs. Massive-sounding, steel-hammer synths herald the album’s opener, 'Jaded Future'. A descending, apocalyptic synth line takes over. Treated Munchkin vocals chant. It’s huge, meant to be experienced live. About impact, not melody. It’s not about the groove, it’s about the pulse. Up next, the title track begins like DAF reduced to a below bare essentials. Synth lines skitter. The vocals are Vocodered. Overwhelming, it batters. Only a mass communion would bring context.
When the vocals are clear, they beg questions. 'The Plan' showcases the interesting lines “evacuate the planet, Germany the programme, cancel the human race, erase project Earth”. Open to interpretation, these lyrics are, at best, a misfire.
Taking it down, on the building “Written in the Sand”, the rave-poppy “Cadillac Dreams” (with a guest vocal form TTC's Teki Latex) and the Balearic '(The Golden Age Of) El Cobra Discoteca', Defiant Order begins sounding like an album rather than a compilation. What Birdy Nam Nam have perfected is tremendously effective, but an album isn’t the best place to experience it.
Kieron Tyler