As it is literally chucking it down out the skies and I have been contemplating going out in it but feel somewhat trapped like one of the children in The Cat In The Hat, I felt the time is right to put pen to paper and review the new album by Canada electro poppy combo The Birthday Massacre. Why? Well for a start it’s downright fun and cheerful and it’s like having a bit of a party where you are not sure what exactly is going to happen. It might not be quite as manic as Thing One and Thing Two turning up but just look at the wonderful cover art and be prepared for some fantasy or other coming true. Anyway I’m hoping it finishes chucking it down after the album ends and if not I can simply give it another play as this band are somewhat addictive once they get started. Ooh look just to really get into the atmosphere of it all, one of the tracks is called Rain too!
Anyway I’m babbling like a fool. It’s been almost three years since the last album ‘Hide And Seek’ by this lot but it doesn’t seem it. They should really release something every year considering that is how often this anniversary comes around but we can be patient and indeed as soon as play is pressed and the first of these compulsive tracks ‘Divide’ starts it’s an immediate and infectious song that could only be by the one band. In line with the art I guess is the sound of the sea and it remains a companion through the album and the first thing you hear before the powerful synth melody (which at first I could have sworn I had heard before) washes over you. We move into a ballad etched track swaying around vocalist Chibi’s soothing tones but as the verse moves into the chorus it’s so powerful it knocks you off your feet with the synth line sparkling back in and everything rising to a melodic crescendo. If this had come out in 1985 I reckon it might just have knocked Take On Me by Aha off the top of the charts! It’s as much synth pop as it is Goth rock and it is one hell of an opening statement and I don’t care how damn commercial it is (in fact I could do something horrible and shout out CHOON at the top of my voice). And of course there’s another nine tracks to back it up like the power pop of ‘Diaries’ with the vocals going all cutesy and syrupy and a stadium house bombast from the symphonic parts. The songs are all 3-4 minutes roughly and pure perfection, the charts mean shit all these days but back in the day I can easily see there being 4 or 5 here that could dent the top 20. The title track invokes the spirit of bands like The Human League and Heaven17 from that era musically but the vocals are a key element that give this more definition of its own.
One thing I do note is that members of the band are not on the whole simply musicians but also listed as things such as audio engineers, mixer, actor, comic book artist, sound designers and web designer so basically they really have seemingly created everything about their universe themselves. Pretty impressive especially as everything they do is so well coordinated from their artwork to videos. They also seem to be right on as far as animal rights and ethics are concerned too.
Back to those mainly one word titled songs though and ‘Surrender’ is hammering away like it wants so major club airplay with a cyber-goth, EDM bombast flirting with sultry, simmering vocals. It’s heady and the contrast between the two elements is spot on with the heavier elements hitting hard and the soothing parts cloaking around you like a cold billowing blast of dry ice. If you are a complete anti-commercialist musically as I consider myself most of the time have a listen to ‘Oceania’ as it’s pure pop no matter which way you look at it BUT if you don’t find a grin spreading on your face and that you are melting a bit inside to it you are obviously already cold, grey and dead, well done! Even ‘Rain’ can’t truly dampen the spirits and it kind of makes you want to go out and get soaked in it (like I’m gonna have a choice). The incessant chant of “falling like the rain” is something that you really find yourself soaking up.
‘The Other Side’ sounds like pure Gary Numan musically of course not vocally that would be strange but I practically wait for him to come in on it every time I hear it. A duet would actually be brilliant on this one, still you can’t get all your birthdays at once. Finishing the party off is moody instrumental ‘Trinity’ and as it ebbs out its only gone and stopped raining too; almost worth giving this an extra half mark…
Pure unadulterated fun and enjoyment on every level, not something I say often on reviewing an album but The Birthday Massacre really do warm the cockles and proffer some light amidst the darkness and for that I can only salute them.
(7.5/10 Pete Woods)