Bowerbirds sound like a two singers version of Damien Rice; the guy who turned the Natalie Portman of “Closer” into the Winona Ryder of the noughties (through “The Blower’s Daughter”). Although their version is less intense, more balanced - though equally sad, a kind of folk nihilism that is slightly self-destructive - than Damien Rice, Phil Moore and Beth Tacular make a similar kind of purring, minimalist pop. Furthermore, this second effort, opens up to something more than the guitar and the accordion - for example fierce clapping, samples and expansive moods. In other words: space, folk space, but space. It’s more poppy than on their previous album, “Upper Air”, that glorious waking up in the clouds, which suffered a bit from lack of clear ideas (“House Of Diamonds” was the only really well constructed track, although it was at points sadly catchy). So, on “The Clearing” the Iowa couple sound like a Rice less angry with the world (at least, that's how Rice sounded on “9”: pretty pissed off), eager to explore new territories. Swampy territories, such as dream-pop (on “Hush”), all-consuming trumpets (“Death Wish”) and the supreme simplicity of grief on the piano (and almost only on piano, something unusual in this duo, sometimes trio) in the intro of “Now We Hurry On”.
Closer to a melancholic version of Herman Düne than to their idol Bon Iver, Bowerbirds have perfected the crescendo, which is key in their sound. They are one of those bands with which it doesn't matter how the songs start; it's about how they end. About how they expand as the minutes go by (how “Tuck The Darkness” tumbles, how “Walk The Furrows” beats, until the last breath) and how they explode and end up in a shambles, shattered – like at the end of “Now We Hurry On”. Fully aware of that, Phil and Beth use the method more often than on their previous effort - but the lack of concentration, the dearth of new doors to open in the future, dismantles the album. While as sinuously beautiful as its predecessor, it suffers from something similar: the attempt to escape from a misunderstood monotony, resulting in a worrying lack of new ideas.
In the Yard