Brace for the end of mum rock: Birds Of Tokyo have come home to roost with their heaviest album in close to a decade.
Sorry Gen Xers, the sappy adult-contemporary-emo stylings of the Perth act’s last LP March Fires have officially burnt out. Their fling with radio-friendly supermarket pop-rock is over, replaced with a darker, edgier sound that’s yielded their most hard-hitting record since 2008’s Universes.
Brace sees the Birds chucking something of a reverse Bring Me The Horizon, resurrecting their long-forgotten riffs and cranking up the volume knobs on their guitars once again to scale-up their position on the heaviness-metre from a 1 to a respectable 5.
But while this may seem, on the surface, like a full circle return to their beloved alt-rock roots; that’s not all that’s going on here.
As well as bringing back the balls, Birds Of Tokyo have also taken a creative leap on Brace, experimenting with an evil laboratory of sounds to craft an album that simultaneously feels familiar and yet completely different to anything we’ve heard from this band – or any other for that matter — before.
Teaming up with former Tool, Muse and Silverchair producer David Bottrill, the five-piece have created a 10-track monster that sounds less like modern Birds Of Tokyo and more like Karnivool meets an 80’s sci-fi film score.
The spellbinding vintage keyboards that surge into massive, crackling distorted guitar riffs in the intro of malevolent disc opener Harlequins set the tone for the whole record, which is laced with retro-cinematic soundscapes, Muse-like riffs and dystopian lyrics about toppling empires and the futility of fighting against an inevitable fate.
Take a listen to the darkly magical, drunken 80’s keyboard lines and pounding mechanical beats of the coldly nightmarish Pilot or the throbbing synths, crunching guitars and militant snare hits that pump throughout Crown and try not to imagine either appearing in a critical scene of the Netflix hit series Stranger Things (or old school movies like The Labyrinth, The Goonies or Tron).
This experimentation with 80’s musical touchstones is more on trend this year than a Demogorgon-themed Halloween costume, but Birds Of Tokyo never lose themselves in the throes of VCR-tinted nostalgia. Despite the range of retro guitar and keyboard tones that flavour the majority of the tunes on Brace, the disc’s production remains staunchly modern and crystalline.
Ian Kenny’s vocals — as they always have — shine bright, with his deeper and more darkly melancholic melodies cutting through with the same polished power as his soaring prog-pop choruses. And never is this more apparent than in the LP’s title track and debut single Brace.
More than anything, Birds Of Tokyo’s 5th album was created to be played live, and fans will get to experience this when the lads take it for a spin out on the road with their next Australian tour, which kicks off in mid-November.
Watch: Birds Of Tokyo – ‘Brace’
‘Brace’ is out today. Grab a copy here.