Dark. Dystopic. Cinematic. In equal parts a radical departure and a return to their epic rock roots. It’s fitting that Birds of Tokyo have called their new album Brace.
Glen Sarangapani of Birds of Tokyo believes the album came into being with band members sharing the same political outrage and disbelief.
‘It’s like a crazy science fiction movie that we are living in. People are literally allowed to lie and get away with it – it’s crazy!’
Unlike most albums where songs are written and bought to the group, this one was created in the room.
‘There was chemistry in the room. Everyone just did a little bit of writing together,’ says Sarangapani. ‘When you have four people playing in the room together, and when Kenny started writing lyrics about the state of the world, the music just fed the lyrics, and then the lyrics fed the music.
‘It’s awesome spreading a message in art and music; it’s powerful. If someone is really questioning something, it’s good to open up the discussion with the people, and it’s good on socials where people are opening up discussions, and wanting to talk about things and express their views.’
The relentless ten-song set was produced with Canadian David Bottrill, who has helmed releases for Tool, Muse and Silverchair. Together they’ve created a bold and uncompromising piece of work.
According to the band Brace was created to be played live – hence the opening lines of the opening track that invite the listener to ‘Come take a seat, enjoy the show’. This is why they are unveiling it with a gig rather than an online stream or suchlike. It’s a muscular but deeply layered journey that’s deliberately conceived to be shared physically – not just digitally.
It should be no surprise that these songs were written during the rise of Trump and the return of Hanson. It’s not an overtly political album but there’s an end-of-days mood pervading each of these tunes and it makes for an unusually cohesive body of work. From the brutal opening riffage of Harlequins it’s clear that the band has a point to prove and all is not well. This outlook is most explicit on songs like Empire, where crumbling walls are torn down and on the closer, Mercy Arms, which literally tracks the final moments of life support. Along the way Discoloured (featuring Hayley Mary from The Jezabels) embraces life on the ledge; awash in a sea of paranoia and dislocation. Even the mid-album moment that initially seems like a respite – Pilot – grows gradually into a climax of ‘watching it all fall apart to be new again’.
Birds of Tokyo play the Hotel Great Northern on Sunday.