Birds In Row - You, Me, & The Violence
Record Label: Deathwish Inc.
Release Date: September 4, 2012
It's very tempting to generalize the American attention span on international music as somewhat wrecked, judgmental, and English thirsty. But in my two years of shadowing Birds In Row, I can finally say with confidence: "Ils s'en fichent". Their coarsely ground hardcore EP, Cottbus, contained angry, blown-out numbers tailored to a pathetic reality. But it's the axing persona of their Deathwish Records full-length debut, You, Me, & The Violence that could have only been concocted from pure destroyer blood.
You'd have a difficult time trying to quantify it, though. The method to Birds In Row's madness is a grating style of off-minor chords that hang loose and drip with pent-up frustration. Likewise, You, Me, & The Violence is very youth anthemic; societal backlash sounds even more confident and ballsy this time around, from the meek: "…there ain't no place to go // we're called the lone kids of our broken throats" ("Among the Ashes", Cottbus) to a counter-raging: "A rope, a razor, a gun, a cancer, the poison, the fire, the fall…" as vocalist Bart dramatically lists the debilitating resources that kids like him have eventually come face-to-face with. This is backhanding punker "Pilori", perhaps the most vibrant in showering us with Birds In Row's dominant aesthetic and unplaceable sound. It's coiled in turbulent feedback, rushes of melancholic shrill via the guitar, and one doom-heavy bass.
There's a clawing emotion to the album, one that becomes more and more overwhelming between its youthful fire-starter theme and chordal bitterness. As such, Birds In Row have reached a new height of maturity on the lyrical scale. Thrashy and gasping for air, "Cages" subsumes the juxtaposition of animal torture to human betrayal: "Day by day we keep on tearing down our cages. So what is fair into collaborating to theirs?" clearing room for menacing snare taps.
The reigning allure of the twelve tracks is that they are peppered with a sort of Tragedy/From Ashes Rise hybrid, the throat-pulling melodic hardcore that Portland trademarked so well, but are still captured in the Birds In Row mystique. There's a little bit of everything mixed in -- "Last Last Chance" is Bart's crooning spotlight in thirty seconds or less, giving us a very quick taste of his softer introspective side, yet distorted nonetheless; "Cold War Everyday" showcases the funky rhythmic fusion of Timmy's drumwork, Bart's vocal pops, and Ditow's grainy bass tones, capped off by the most gripping three-way pile on from the members since the album's introduction. "Police & Thieves" is a shaken up aggression-gone-revolutionary anthem, where the repeated manifesto: "Give the power to the thieves!" flings oil to the flame. "Lovers Have Their Say", a staggering twelve minutes long, retests the waters of acoustic territory as Bart's voice is stifled to the back of the mix -- a very unique approach to communicating a blackish, bound-and-gagged existence: "Something is missing. When no more candles could light the dark. When no more roses could add some colors…"
You, Me, & The Violence is in a league of its own, with hardly anything in its associated genres to be bullied by and rivaled. Birds In Row have literally flung their backs against the walls of society, in vivid proclamation that their mental space, let alone France, is no place for the lighthearted.
There's some haters saying that Deathwish changed their sound drastically after Cottbus (which, in their opinion, is better). That's ridiculous -- I felt that if anything, it kind of sounds like they overshadowed Deathwish and their roster with their own touch (not quite sure how a label could "change their sound" when its the artists who are the talented ones).
There are very few bands who have an "I don't give a fuck" sound among carbon copies within a given genre and they're definitely one of them.