Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Birds Of Tokyo - This Fire

Birds Of Tokyo
This Fire
Birds Of Tokyo PTY. LTD./E.M.I. Music Australia

Given the success Perth (Western Australia) outfit Birds Of Tokyo have enjoyed over the last five years, it’s kind of surprising that it’s taken so long for the band to return with something new. But after more than two years since the release of their self-titled album back in mid 2010, Birds Of Tokyo have finally returned with a taste of things to come in the form of their latest E.P. ‘This Fire’.
Much like the change of sound that was evident between ‘Universes’ (2008) and ‘Birds Of Tokyo’ (2010), ‘This Fire’ shows another step into new territory for the band, and a clear sign of what fans can expect from ‘March Fires’ with its release next month.
The newly expanded five piece outfit (Who comprise of vocalist Ian Kenny, guitarist Adam Spark, new bassist Ian Berney, new keyboardist Glenn Sarangapany and drummer Adam Weston) open up their latest E.P. with the title track ‘This Fire’, and the song that sets the tone for all the four tracks on the E.P.  Birds Of Tokyo’s songs have always been built around a strong sense of melody and Kenny’s addictive and melodic voice, but it’s on ‘This Fire’ that the band takes things one step further. Building upon the lead set by their last full-length effort, ‘This Fire’ is a slow building tune that relies more on Kenny’s powerful and emotive vocals, with the music providing more of a supporting role. The brooding atmospherics only adds to the drama of Kenny out front during the verses, while the build up in the choruses with militaristic drumming and chanted/gang vocals make a real impact at just the right times. This is something of a new sound for Birds Of Tokyo, and one where mood and feeling outweighs the need to rock from the moment the song starts. Yes, the song still rocks, but in a far more measured way.
The follow-on track ‘Glowing In The Streets’ is a definite favourite on the E.P., with the guitars and keyboards given a little more fuzz and volume, but never at the detriment of Kenny’s beautiful melodic vocal lines. While the track does have some similarities to the sound heard on the band’s last album, there’s sparseness in the instrumental delivery shown throughout the song that showcases a newfound sense of minimalism within the band’s song writing.
‘Boy’ is one of the E.P.’s most introspective and quieter tracks, with the bulk of the song carried by warm sounding keyboards. The song is another example of Kenny’s delicate vocals and heartfelt lyrics, and how the band successfully creates an atmosphere that gently ebbs and flows throughout, all the while avoiding the cliché of adding too much to the mix and spoiling the serenity of it all.
The final track ‘The Lake’ is perhaps the only real disappointment on offer here. Although far from a complete failure, the use of military drums, the progressive build throughout and an overly repetitive use of the same lyrical lines does tend to have less impact to this listener than ‘This Fire’ – which utilised a similar approach.
Although it’s hard to know exactly what ‘March Fires’ will sound like as a whole, we do at least have an idea of what the potential holds with the release of ‘This Fire’. In short, I expect nothing less than another collection of beautifully atmospheric written anthems filling up the band’s next album – albeit in a different form to what we have heard before on previous Birds Of Tokyo albums.

For more information on Birds Of Tokyo, check out - http://www.birdsoftokyo.com/

© Justin Donnelly