Hopelessness aside, you may remember that around this time, Canadian dark-pop / synth-wave veterans THE BIRTHDAY MASSACRE, had released their latest album “Diamonds”, and were excited to get back on that tour bus. Naturally, this didn’t go to plan, and despite the quality of the album itself, it almost felt like it couldn’t be properly celebrated, as many fans were now unable to enjoy these songs at live shows across North America and here in the UK.
Fast forward to 2022 now, and having survived through ever changing and ever varying degrees of pandemic protocol, government teeter-tottering on their own frankly hypocritical regulations (I swear, it was NOT a party, it was an unexpectedly accidental, and somewhat coincidental gathering, of people who, just happened to be, very close friends and colleagues, who also, for some reason, all had alcoholic beverages and caviar Vol-Au-Vents), we find The Birthday Massacre back with another brand-new album; “Fascination”. Has the past two years of uncertainty and frustration fuelled this record creatively? Let’s find out...
We open up with the title track, and the longest track of the album here, provides a certain sense of, dramatic grandiosity...in a good way. The almost angelic choir-esque vocal harmonies beautifully compliment the delicate, icy synths in the opening notes, and coupled with the deeper, yet sparse bass level electronic pulses, it’s musically a perfect combination. Add Chibi’s effortlessly innocent vocals to the mix, and you are instantly drawn into the album in an almost hypnotic manner.
Following on directly from this we have the albums lead single “Dreams Of You” and we get some classic TBM. It’s simple, effective, electronic pop-rock and they continue to do it masterfully. It’s up-beat, bubbly and jovial and the band clearly still love what they do; it shines through tracks such as this one and it reminds us all just how polished and efficient the purple-clad Canadians are at churning out songs sweeter and stickier than maple syrup, and there’s plenty more where this came from...
The track “Precious Hearts” channels a certain old-school TBM vibe that harnesses synths akin to their “Video Kid” era while utilising their ability to unleash more intense, crunching guitar parts. The riffs here aren’t technically challenging or even unique but they use the heaviness well and it just fits perfectly. The minimal solo part in ways can be likened to fellow electronic rock veterans ORGY, and this whole thing is top-drawer. However, it isn’t even the best track on the record. “Like Fear, Like Love” is quite simply, incredible. I’ve talked on how TBM make it look so easy to churn out absolute belters like this, and this is a prime example. The catchy hooks, 80’s inspired darkened synth-wave, the soft, yet bold, emotive vocals; this is textbook and prove why they are among, if not THE best at what they do. It’s impossible to not find yourself moving in some way shape or form to this track...even if you’re a corpse.
Appropriately then we eventually close on “The End Of All Stories” and it’s effective as a slower, more lulling piece of electronic dreamscape. To which may I add, the band are equally effective in delivering. As sombre and frankly emotional as this track feels aesthetically, it still manages to round things up on a high note somewhat oxymoronically. While it’s fun to go out with a bang, to set the mood, and atmosphere with a perfect ballad is equally as effective, and here it gives the album a wonderful sense of closure.
Whether or not this would have been the same album The Birthday Massacre gave us if we didn’t have a pandemic, creatively, we will never know, but we have to respect the fact that, bands and touring artists all around the world, have been affected these last two years. Despite losing out on highly important touring income; through ticket sales and merchandise, they’ve doubled down and produced yet another slab of gothic-tinged melodic electro-pop beauty, and it deserves your attention. Regardless of your actual date of birth, “Fascination” comes out via METROPOLIS RECORDS on February 18th, so treat yourself to a second birthday, buy this album and show Chibi and co some love.