Precious few sounds have escaped the vaults of Chicago’s Golden Birthday since their 2008 debut full-length, Infinite Leagues. But as anybody close to the inner workings of the band can attest, appearances can be deceiving. Far from content to gather dust, Golden Birthday have masked themselves in the perceived silence while steadily working to build a dense body of new material, weaving the warbled new-wave of their debut with a panorama of influences new and old, musical and otherwise.
In the interim, the band has undergone dramatic changes in personnel. Throughout its existence, collaborators have included luminaries from various corners of Chicago’s music underground, including members of Night Gallery, Cave, Streetwalker, and Mahjonng. But at its heart, Golden Birthday has always been rooted in the creative universe of founder and frontman Ryan Sullivan. Binding his affinity for the atmospheric haze of vintage 4AD and Creation Records groups with a blown-out variation of the kinetic drum programming and spiraling synths that permeate his city’s musical youth, and wrapping the resulting sonics like a cloak around his multi-layered vocals, Sullivan has laid claim to a sound aptly described by one writer as “pop in slow motion.”