Review:: Hide and Seek | The Birthday Massacre

image

There’s something to be said about consistency for bands that have been around for a while. Some bands drop off, while some age gracefully. For Toronto’s synth-goth six-piece The Birthday Massacre, they fall into the latter category. On their fifth record, Hide and Seek, the group delivers a half-hour story full of darkness and eeriness which fits perfectly with the season.

From the opening lines, there’s a bit of an odd feeling. The fading lead-in of “Leaving Tonight” could easily have been recorded in the 80’s, giving not only a sense of nostalgia, but delivering something that’s rarely given to listeners nowadays – something creative and new. The track itself is an upbeat synth-pop head-nodder, packed with a catchy chorus driven. However, the calm doesn’t last for long, as “Down” chugs its way on its coattails. The hardest song on the record shows an impressive range for the pocket-sized Chibi, mixing smooth, almost angelic clean vocals with heavy, gritty shouts.

Clinking chimes and wind accompany a building electronic sample and drums into the haunting “Play With Fire,” which is filled to the brim with innocent vocals and dark lyrics. “Need,” as odd as this comparison may sound, is the synthesized cousin of a Demi Lovato track. The vocals are very similar, both stylistically and talent-wise, providing for a genre-crossing song that pop fans of any age or scene can sing to.

“Calling” is another of TBM’s poppier songs, easily one of their most digestible to date. Meanwhile, the follow-up “Alibis” is heavily laced with creeping feedback and samples before becoming a hard-hitting chorus, backed by a dual-guitar performance from Rainbow and Falcore.

The upbeat introduction of “One Promise” is addictive, supported by the album’s catchiest chorus, spot-on vocals, mix-and-match choruses, and emotionally-powerful lyrics; “Watching from the back seat / waiting for the light to disappear. / I wonder where the night went / looking down the road that led us here. / I used to know you / but that was in another life. / And I can’t wait another night.”

“In This Moment” draws you in with a calm rainstorm and a building synthesizer beat. On both the longest and smoothest track on Hide and Seek, The Birthday Massacre fires on all cylinders. Lyrically and vocally, Chibi is perfect (When I was younger / The days all seemed to last so much longer / But that was once upon a time. / … In this moment / We pretend we’re all that matters. / We’re endless). Rhim’s drumming fits beautifully with Owen’s keys and the push-and-pull of Manor’s bass against Rainbow and Falcore’s guitars. If you’re looking for the one song to judge the album by, it’d be this.

The soft and somber “Cover My Eyes” is a pleading ballot that begs for security – “Cover my eyes tonight / Don’t let me see the light. … Forever I crawl / Forever I cry / I don’t know who I am anymore tonight.” If I weren’t keeping an eye on the screen, I wouldn’t have caught the flawless transition between “Cover My Eyes” and the concluding “The Long Way Home.” The album’s shortest song, coming in at just over two minutes, finishes up where not only its predecessor leaves off, but ties the album up with a bow. A dark, synth-swirled, chanting bow. Looking at the album art, these one hundred and thirty-six seconds fully embody the picture of the small child being led by the hand from the dark into the light. A feeling of grown independence and confidence washes the album away, repeating “Don’t let me go / Stay close to me / Don’t look behind us / there’s nothing to see. / Let me go / from here / I know it’s a long way home.”

Rating: 4/5
Total Runtime: 35 minutes
Release Date: October 9th

Tracklist:
1. Leaving Tonight
2. Down
3. Play with Fire
4. Need
5. Calling
6. Alibis
7. One Promise
8. In This Moment
9. Cover My Eyes
10. The Long Way Home

Lineup:
Chibi – Lead vocals
Rainbow – Guitar, vocals
Falcore – Guitar
Rhim – Drums
Owen – Keyboards
Nate Manor – Bass


Written By: Eric Riley