We Count So We Don’t Have to Listen, the opener to Birds in Row’s new album, starts with melodic, jangling guitar. That proves deceptive—a thirty second red herring, to lull you into a false sense of security before assaulting your ears with blasts of noise and rage-filled screams. The abrupt transition from soft, pleasing melodies to jarring, abrasive guitars and frenetic vocals (which are not structured in a verse-chorus fashion, favoring something more in the style of blood-curdling free verse poetry) is a recurring theme on We Already Lost the World, the French post-hardcore group’s long-awaited follow up to their 2012 debut You, Me, & the Violence.
Performing a deft balancing act, Birds in Row toe the line separating unrelenting aggression and haunting melancholy throughout the album. The aforementioned opening track and Love is Political pummel the listener before easing up for the more melodic We vs. Us. Two more chaotic tracks before the downright catchy 15-38, and another two before Fossils closes things out.
The give and take can feel a little out of whack—as though the band is not reciprocating, asking more of the the listener than they give back in return. Some may prefer more of a 50/50 balance, or even a heavier emphasis on the more melodic numbers, but to the band, this matters not. Because one thing is clear when it comes to Birds in Row, a band who purposely obscure their faces from promo photos and whose members decline to give their names, opting instead to use only single initials: whatever happens, it’s going to happen on their terms.
7/11 Ringing Ears