Operation: Fascination

by H Bird

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about

"If Dusty Springfield were alive today and obsessed with quiet electronics, then she might sound a little like H Bird. Conceived by pop aficionado Aug Stone and voiced by Scarlet’s Well keyboard player Kate, H Bird are equal parts St Etienne, Lucky Soul, and perfect heartbreak." – How Does It Feel To Be Loved?

"...filled with bitter sweet, perfect pop tunes of the kind that haven’t been heard since the likes of St. Etienne graced the stage. And it’s music that is deserving of your time, an album whose subtleties and eloquence are revealed more fully if it’s given your full attention. Pour a Martini, don a smoking jacket (or a cat suit, possibly both) and experience the literate bitter sweet pop that is ‘Operation Fascination’." - Von Pip Musical Express

"...to put it simply this single is perfect, one of those songs which you simply couldn’t improve if you tried. It’s beautiful pop music, beautifully written and beautifully sung. It’s a warm feeling in your heart. It’s achingly sweet without being nauseating or saccharine and from the second that piano riff hits you and the words “Your eyes meet mine…” coyly fall into view you’ll be hooked and pretty much a sitting duck to the drums and killer keyboard line." - Pow Pow Pow

"‘Operation: Fascination’ is a wonderful epitaph to a short-lived band that sparkled briefly, yet brightly." - PennyBlackMusic

"At its best, it’s very good indeed – witness the delightful Spector-ish Northern Soul of ‘1000 Lights’, or the perky synth-pop of ‘Violet’, which hides an achingly wistful chorus, effortlessly ticking that happy-sad perfect pop box that the likes of Dusty and the Pet Shop Boys have understood all too well." - CMU

credits

released January 11, 2011

H Bird is: Kate Dornan, Kasia Middleton, & Aug Stone

Thanks to Ian Catt, Alex Sarll, Belinda Darling, Alex Potterill, Pippa Ashton, Gemma Cossins, and anyone who ever came to a gig or gave a listen.

All songs recorded by Ian Catt except 'Violet' recorded by Boothnavy and Ian Catt.

CD design by Pippa Alice. Cover photo by Gemma Cossins.

Original Press Release:

H Bird release debut album ‘Operation: Fascination’ on 10 January 2011 – an eleven part pop victory that trails through a party, from tender, misty-eyed love and accidental romance, to heartbroken comedowns, wistful nostalgia and brighter tomorrows dancing under the stars.

Opener ‘Violet’ is the first and only Dornan and Stone collaboration, a three minute frolic through a make-believe world of pop that celebrates life in the face of death. “It contains the perfect mixture of joy and melancholy that all the best songs have,” says Aug. ‘1000 Lights,’ written by Kate, quickly became a live favourite. “It’s a twist of good old English grumpiness to zest the cocktail of sunny American optimism; and a reminder to celebrate falling out of love as heartily as falling in,” she says. “C’mon, dry your eyes, you’ll water down your drink that way,” dead-pans the female narrator of ‘Sour Martinis’ – stolen from the title to Chapter 14 of Ian Fleming’s Thunderball – as she whisks her heartbroken best friend off on a cocktail- fuelled afternoon. Determined not to let the good stuff go to waste, she boldly lets him know what's really going on: "Push that glass to the side, my lips are waiting to take its place.” ‘Danger Makers’ is the title of an episode of The Avengers and is a nod to the fast-paced, stylish, fantasy world of the cult TV show. “H Bird would never have existed if it weren’t for Mrs Peel and John Steed,” says Aug. “Even the album title, ‘Operation: Fascination’ came from an episode called What The Butler Saw.” ‘First Kiss Lips,’ arguably the first H Bird song, begins as pure pop but mutates into Italo disco with space-age synth slides and spiraling cosmic howls. “I demoed the music in my first flat in London,” says Aug. “I’ve always said that there’s something about a really great pop song that’s akin to the feeling you have after you’ve kissed someone you’ve really fancied for quite a while.” ‘Pink Lights & Champagne’ is a dreamy lounge jewel, first released on Dogbox Records in ‘06. “It’s another one courtesy of Ian Fleming,” says Aug. “Chapter 8 of Casino Royale. I remember a very pleasant Sunday afternoon quaffing Guinness in a big comfy chair at The Pineapple in Kentish Town reading the last Darcy Dancer book by JP Donleavy. By the time I’d left I had all the lyrics scribbled down on my bookmark.” The Gainsbourg-esque ‘Lumières Des Belgique’ transports us to a snowy Belgian street scene; hidden in the shadows, we witness the final moments of a bitter break-up between two lovers. The record closes with the twinkling melancholy of ‘Allodynia’: “These empty glasses sing, of naïve toasts of yesteryear and all they failed to bring.” We follow the singer leaving a shattered relationship, on to where the clouds are now lined with silver, no longer "cigarette-smoke grey". “This is the last H Bird song to be written,” says Aug. “I wrote it in a tiny room in Queen’s Park after having once again become obsessed with Suede’s ‘Dog Man Star’ for the millionth time.”

It was late autumn 2003 and Aug was walking down Portobello Road when he stopped at a shop window and peered in at two polka dot patterned tea cups; one was blue and green, the other red and pink. After a brief pause, he continued home, where he slipped Dusty Springfield’s ‘Stay Awhile’ onto the turntable. Right there and then, he knew he had to form a band that sounded like his afternoon.

Two years later, he bumped into Kate and Kasia in a second hand record shop – all three were poised to clinch the one available 12” of Yazoo's ‘Upstairs at Eric's.’ Concluding that the last thing any of them wanted was a public bloodbath, Aug waved his copies of Dusty’s ‘A Girl Called Dusty’ and Saint Etienne’s ‘Tiger Bay’ aloft, like war-ravaged white flags. A cool détente whistled down the musty aisle and fighting fists were dropped.
Aug then recognised Kate from the bands Fosca and Scarlet’s Well, who he was a big fan of, buying their imports back when he lived in America. Kate introduced him to Kasia, a close friend since university, who was a dab hand with a synth, cello, and pretty much anything else she could accrue. They opted instead to go for a cup of tea and H Bird was born. It was a meeting of pop magic.

A gig at the How Does It Feel Club snowballed into shows across London every other week, from The Betsey Trotwood, to supporting Lucky Soul at Kilburn’s The Good Ship, and headline shows at Fierce Panda parties, H Bird’s cool, nonchalant New-Pop was packing in the kids. During this summer of madness, singles label Dogbox Records witnessed the trio’s musical manifesto. A gin-soaked evening ensued; by the break of dawn, H Bird had signed on the dotted line and ‘Pink Lights & Champagne’ was to be their debut single.

Since, the guys have played all around London, slowly building a devoted fan-base, but that’s not all. Kate has been busy in bands including The Mystery Fax Machine Orchestra and 18 Carat Love Affair, Kasia made a move to LA to pen film scores, and Aug has been making music with David Shah (Luxembourg, The Melting Ice Caps) as The Soft Close-Ups, as well as releasing under a variety of other guises. But now, H Bird are reunited and armed with an album of perfect pop.

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Track Name: Violet
The city springs nightflowers
We’ll drip away the hours
The crowd just melts away
Now endless trailers play

I just want to make-believe
In a world that never sleeps
The night lights burning deep
With every breath I breathe

They swim on river air
It could be anywhere
If the city takes us in
We won’t need anything

I just want to make-believe
In a love that never leaves
Dream a thousand dreams
With every breath I breathe

I just want to make-believe
But time won’t stop for me
Feel the falling leaves
With every breath I breathe

This picture burns
But the stars are fading out
Now the leaves still turn
They’ll never never never
Hit the ground

I just want to make-believe
In a world that never sleeps
The city starts to freeze
With every breath I breathe

I just want to make-believe
But time won’t stop for me
Feel the falling leaves
With every breath I breathe

With every breath I breathe
Feel the falling leaves
With every breath I breathe
Track Name: Fancies & Goodnights
(I spy, with my little eye, something that begins with you)

C’mon now boy, you’ve never seen a girl like me before
Undercover, are you what I’ve been looking for?

Violet melodies, whisper ‘cross the floor
A glance I drink right in, then turn away for more
A marble Venus pose, awaits your two lips
Obscured by lustrous rose, and endearing nervous sips

C’mon now boy, you’ve never seen a girl like me before
Undercover, are you what I’ve been waiting for?

Breath of tangerine, on lips of peach
Soft and close now, good enough to eat
And eyes of saccharine, melt mine to gold
I hope you’re a good boy, and do what you’re told

C’mon now boy, you’ve never seen a girl like me before
Undercover, what has tonight in store?

Strawbr’y shadows slide, whirl across the room
Hearts beat so quick-quick-slow, movin’ into you
And all the stars align, to dance in your eyes
Then disappear so dreamily, to wish us goodnight

C’mon now boy, you’ve never seen a girl like me before
Undercover, are you what I’ve been waiting for?
Track Name: 1000 Lights
I don't want to be the one at the end of your last parade
I don't want to be the heaven-sent place you go to end your days
Oh, I hope it's not love - I hope it's not love

I don't want to be the one in your dreams when you just can't sleep
I don't want to be the summer sun at the end of your working week
Oh, I hope it's not love - I hope it's not love

'Cause you know there are 1000 lights out this evening
I'm not going home, I'm not going home

I don't want to put the light to this fire that you're trying to start
I don't want to take the poison, dear, or be shot with the fatal dart
Oh, I hope it's not love - I hope it's not love

'Cause you know there are 1000 lights out this evening
I'm not going home, I'm not going home

Fools trust in persistence and live half-heartedly
Oh, I'm losing my resistance, but you're not fooling me

I don't want to be the one at the end of your last parade
I don't want to be the heaven-sent hell in which you spend your days
Oh, I hope it's not love - I hope it's not love

'Cause you know there are 1000 lights out this evening
I'm not going home, I'm not going home
Track Name: Sour Martinis
hey come on boy pick up the phone, it's too nice a day to be inside drinking alone
i've got sugar and spice and everything nice, but you won't even taste
you'll just stay in bed with a raincloud head, let the sunshine go to waste

takes a shake to get you awake, and from the look upon your face, last night capsized
so c'mon dry your eyes, or push that glass to the side, you'll water down your drink that way

it's all sour martinis and bitter rosé, each and every day
and everytime you see me you're sloe gin grey, since she went away

you blood-shot eye the bar, as the clouds burst from afar, both open now
so we'll duck inside for a while, the first time i've seen you smile, so go on fill us up again

hey come on boy these lips of mine, will do you better than all that vodka lime

it's all sour martinis and bitter rosé, since she went away
you think you need to chase her but i'll give it to you straight, she's not coming back no way

but as the storm leaves us behind, you're staring in your pint, half-empty now
so c'mon dry your eyes, or push that glass to the side, you'll water down your drink that way


stop comparing your heart, to your empty glass for a start, and fill me up again
c'mon dry your eyes, and push that glass to the side, my lips are waiting to take it's place

oo c'mon boy let's give it a shot, back to yours and let's see what you got

it's all sour martinis and bitter rosé, while the good stuff goes to waste
i've got sugar and spice, oh everything nice, just waiting for
Track Name: Danger Makers
She calls my name,
Her vesper voice, leading me astray

And I can’t avoid
Her judo kicks and peep-hole eyes
Got no choice
By her lips I’m hypnotized

Hearts shatter so easily, this is just a game we play
Come taste the danger with me

She comes my way again
And I’m poised, surrender my queen of sin

I’ve got no choice
A touch of brimstone’s all I need
To be her toy, oh I’d do anything to please

Hearts shatter so easily, this is just a game we play
Come taste the danger with me

Hearts shatter so easily, love is just a game we play
Come misadventure with me

And her voice
With those danger making eyes
Sayin’ come here boy
It’s you that’s needed tonight

Hearts shatter so easily, this is just a game we play
Come misadventure with me

Hearts shatter so easily, love is just a game we play
Come court disaster with me
Track Name: First Kiss Lips
Stay, Oh baby won’t you stay
We’ll spend this sleepy day
In each other’s arms

Cause I, Never wanna say goodbye
When I see me in your eyes
Oh how we shine

Baby when your lips meet mine, Oh it’s like a dream
Let’s make the dream last all night
Each and every single kiss, sends me a-tingle yes
Just like the first time, each time

Stay, All night and every day
You wash away the greys
So love shines bright

And you, Always know what to do
You’re a wish that keeps coming true and true and true
With each starlight

Baby when your hold me tight, Oh it’s like a dream
Let’s make the dream last all night
Each and every single kiss, makes my heart tingle yes
Just like the first time
Track Name: Pink Lights & Champagne
Your eyes meet mine, from above your cigarette
And the mirror shows, they ain’t off me yet
Hear the waves crash against the shore, we’ll take a walk from the casino floor
And in your smile there’s something more
So don’t hide it

Baby I think it’s time, so just slip your hand in mine

O stay awhile, the glasses are filled with pink lights and champagne
O by my side, O now you’re mine (all mine)

Our lips touch lightly as the darkness falls, and the night leaves us all alone
It’s so nice here under the stars, on our own
Feel the waves crash against the shore, but I can’t hear them anymore
And there’s that smile again from before
Don’t hide it

Time spins so fast, then it all seems to disappear yeah-eah

O stay awhile, your eyes are filled with pink lights and champagne
O stay all night, O hold me tight and do that again (and again)

O stay all night, our eyes shinin’ with pink lights and champagne
O by my side, stay with me til the pink skies of morning
O stay awhile, the night sky sparkles with pink lights and champagne
O stay all night, O hold me tight, and do that again
Track Name: Die Büchlein
The pool reflects their image as they change from hour to hour
They say she tastes like candy but she always looks so sour

This city, comes alive at evening, so do I
But what’s the meaning?
I take photographs with my pen, shut the cover, wait and then
These little books will one day, tell it all wrong anyway

She walks on whispers carefully as the leaves drop to the ground
They rush to vespers treacherously but there they won’t be found

This city, comes alive at evening, so do I
But what’s the meaning?
She asks what they’re planning tonight, It’ll be all there in black and white
Click the scene’s ghost in words, capture all their bitter looks


This city, comes alive at evening, so do I
But what’s the meaning?
I take photographs with my pen, shut the cover, wait and then
Spy around the corner, Big bends and small-time crooks
Is it as brittle as it looks? Write it all in little books
Track Name: Lumières des Belgique
Lost love lingers on lips
Cold from a goodbye kiss
That never came

I watch your shadow leave
It darkens everything
Then turns away

‘Baby don’t go’
Falls silent with the snow
Whispers freeze mid-air
The lights turn on, there’s no one there

Twilight silent sighs
The ghosts of dazzling skies
Smoke haloes fade

Soft-soled steps recede
They’re grey like everything
That fades away

‘Baby don’t go’
Falls silent with the snow
Whispers freeze mid-air
The lights turn on, there’s no one there
Track Name: Dear Dead Days
rainfall, the sound of love, i make my way back home
streetlamps cast long shadows down, streets we used to go

matchbooks, torn letters i, picture the way you kiss

photographs brittle now, in violet-scented dust
violet light, ripples o’er, memories untouched

matchbooks, torn letters i, dream of the way you held me then
in those days...

streetlamps dim, as morning sighs, violet fading night
winter chill though winter’s gone, pale winter light
it’s all so still, and all still there, ribbon-tied before
time to close tired violet eyes and dream of you no more
Track Name: Allodynia
the clouds are here to stay
silver lines have faded now to cigarette-smoke grey
the embers light the day
silhouettes so statuesque obscuring their decay

these empty glasses sing
of naive toasts of yesteryear and all they failed to bring

there's nothing left to say
the stars we used to wish upon, i've wished them all away
the embers still ablaze
but hearts of ash so quickly fall and easily blow away

the empty bottles stand,
a testament to love grown old, precariously close at hand

the tears all slipped away
reflected as the rain slid past this shimmering disarray
the end blurs all the same
so hold me tight but wave goodbye i just can't bear to stay

the broken glass betrays
the utter meaninglessness of all there was to say