Artist: The Birthday Massacre
Genre: Gothic Rock / Dark Wave / New Wave / Electronic Rock
Release Date: 18th February 2022
Label: Metropolis Records
THE BIRTHDAY MASSACRE are one of those bands that have come into my field of vision over the past 20 years and the name has burned itself into my mind like a brand on a cow’s arse. That’s as far as it has gone. I know the name; I’ve seen a photo but that’s about it. You know what it’s like when you go to a nightclub and you see certain individuals there every Friday night for years. Their image is in your head but you don’t speak or acknowledge them until years later through the machinations or manipulations of others you finally say “Hi, my name is…” That’s what it was like with THE BIRTHDAY MASSACRE. And so, I get an email and I’m asked if I’m up for some reviewing of THE BIRTHDAY MASSACRE and I go “Yeah why not, it’s gotta be better than listening to Kiefer Sutherland’s new long player, please send me some BIRTHDAY MASSACRE, pleeeease!”
Anyway, the band comes from London Ontario and they’ve been around, as I said above, for 20 years. What they produce is a style of music which is classed as Gothic cum Electronica cum Dark Wave, and after listening to this album I can add Stadium Pop Rock to that list as well. The album is the 9th of their career and this one was co-produced by SKINNY PUPPY founding member Ian Ogilvie. So, it’s synth driven affair with texture and flow to it. There’s none of that starting with a good idea and running with it and then half way through deciding to add another element to the proceedings that has you losing your rhythm or being shaken out of the head space you were in because someone thought they’d shake things up a bit by chucking in a sonic obstacle or key change or what have you that has you flailing about and tripping over your feet because you can’t quite follow where everything is going. This has none of that! Right now, I want a jam sandwich, I don’t want a jam sandwich that’s been given a twist with the addition of garlic pepper and curry powder! I like this!
‘Fascination’ is the finger of lube that eases you into the album in a smooth manner. The vocals are buttery and reassuring. The vocals on ‘Dreams Of You’ coax your interest and attention and you go “oh ok then, I’m coming….” And then ‘Cold Lights’, this is an awesome track. It’s easy on the ear, smooth and floaty. The synth bass shivers the neck and the main keys add just about the right amount of veininess to keep everything moving along nicely. I bloody love this! ‘Stars and Satellites’ reminds me of bubbles popping in my mouth, the keyboard line in the background coming across all fizzy. The “chugga chugga” guitar offering my ears some scowl to latch on to, ‘One More Time’ carries on the easy flow of the previous track. It’s not abrasive in any shape or form, just sounds that come from a gauze draped dream pumped full of mist and cotton candy. This reminds me of bands like CURVE or SPC ECO.
‘One More Time’ takes me back to the 80s and to the tunes of Patsy Kensit and her band EIGHTH WONDER. It’s Dark Pop stood atop a hill with the wind blowing through its ample crimped black hair, that's what this is! The production is airy, the guitars blended in in the right amount. The male voices gyrate around the female in a pleasing duet at the end. ‘Like Fear, Like Love’ is just brilliant! No stops and starts, none of those sonic obstacles that get in the way and check your step. It’s an emphatic focused sweep from start to finish replete with pleasant wiry guitar and grittiness. The simple bass helps with the no obstacles and no stop start approach. As I listen, my neighbour starts playing some garbage with over-processed RHIANNA like vocals. She needs educating on how music should be produced so I’ll just turn the volume up to 11! I don’t want to live this way forever!
‘Once Again’ is pure Pop Electronica with a burnt sugar topping. The guitar filigrees are, how can I put it, like the sound I’d make when a finger is compressing my throat and everything else is like the smell of that burnt sugar worming its way up your nostrils. Love it! ‘Precious Hearts’ is punchy, punchy and punchy, and then ‘The End Of All Stories’ ends the album by thickening up the gravy a bit. Sarah “Chibi” Taylor’s voice wanders through with a textured smoothness that has not once through the whole album been chiding, it just pulls you along as does the guitars.
It’s music that fires up the joy muscles. Hypothetically speaking, if I was to light up a huge fat spliff and then lay on my couch, this would be playing in the background. It’s a feel-good Gothic Rock that does the job. Like a sonic sugar rush, you feel satiated but not full or bloated. There used to be a chocolate bar in the UK called a “Fudge Finger”. The advert had a song in it that went like this: “A finger of fudge is good enough to give your kids a treat, it’s full of Cadburys goodness until it's time to eat…” This album does the same thing!
02. Dreams Of You
03. Cold Lights
04. Stars And Satellites
05. One More Time
06. Like Fear, Like Love
07. Once Again
08. Precious Hearts
09. The End Of All Stories
Sarah “Chibi” Taylor – Vocals
Michael Rainbow – Rhythm Guitar, Programming, Backing Vocals
Michael Falcore – Lead Guitar, Programming, Backing Vocals
Owen Mackinder – Keyboards, Keytar
Phillip Elliott – Drums
Brett Carruthers – Bass
Total: 9 / 10