Cass McCombs has mastered the art of hypnotic tunes that pack punches lyrically, and his Anti- debut, Mangy Love, is no exception. Produced by Rob Schnapf and Dan Horne, Mangy Love also features contributions from guitar virtuoso Blake Mills and singer/songwriter Angel Olsen. In the midst of a climate ripe for political criticism, McCombs sounds off on issues like misogyny and mental illness, lightening up for selective tracks like "Laughter Is the Best Medicine" without steering his more pointed commentary off-course. Album opener "Bum Bum Bum" may take hold of listeners right off the bat for its overt political themes, but it's the latter half of the record's "Low Flyin' Bird" that sticks out as McCombs' best balancing act between hazy, understated vocals and catchy guitar measures.
Full-sounding strums open the track and give way to vocals that echo throughout the verses, musically emulating the kind of ups and downs you might imagine a hovering bird making in the air. McCombs varies between that reverberating staccato on the verses and long, glowing notes on the chorus, making for a combination with cool instrumentals that goes down easy and makes for laid-back, ambient listening. The chorus, itself, is a rare push toward the inspirational: "Low flyin' bird, don't scrape your beak / Low flyin' bird, don't sink / Let me ride over the canyon wide / Let me ride / Low flyin' bird, don't dive." Sometimes the urge to keep going is less of an anthemic roar and more of a gentle, constant hum.