The Birthday Massacre
Pins and Needles


4.0
excellent

Review

by Trey Spencer STAFF
September 6th, 2010 | 362 replies | 34,581 views


Release Date: 2010 | Tracklist

Review Summary: They're not creepy sounding anymore… who cares.

The Birthday Massacre isn’t a band that could be called complacent. On just their second album they had already created a winning formula that included industrial, new wave and gothic rock, but they weren’t done yet. On their third release they managed to improve on just about every aspect of their sound while making it more melodic and catchy at the same time. It was an excellent achievement simply due to the fact that they didn’t really lose any of their signature sound in the process. Unfortunately, the same thing cannot be said about The Birthday Massacre’s latest release, Pins and Needles. Pins and Needles continues the band’s push towards a more mainstream sound, and that progression has finally taken a toll on their core sound.

The foundation of The Birthday Massacre’s sound has always revolved around electronics and a kind of weird psychotic innocence that pervaded most of the lyrics. This sound was supplemented by playful synth melodies that had the ability to morph between pretty and eerie with an uncanny ease. The star of this show was, of course, the vocals of Chibi. Her voice was the last piece needed to create a strange Alice in Wonderland meets Tim Burton atmosphere that still managed to be catchy and accessible. Unfortunately that atmosphere has been totally discarded on Pins and Needles. The band seems to have set their entire focus on making songs that are totally safe, and they’ve lost their personality in the process. There isn’t a single moment on this album that will create the kind of unease or even fun-haunted-house feelings of the previous releases. The melodies never deviate from their upbeat style and Chibi has done away with any abrasiveness that she occasionally utilized in the past. Here’s the real kicker, though – it doesn’t matter at all. Despite a lack of character, Pins and Needles is just about as excellent as anything The Birthday Massacre have ever done, and in some ways it’s even better.

The most noticeable improvement is in the album’s actual sound. Pins and Needles is easily the band’s most professional sounding album to date. The mix is so clear and polished that literally every instrument has its own space. The percussion is thick and powerful, the guitars are sharp, the electronics rumble underneath and the keyboards dominate without overpowering. This slick production is perfect for the band’s sound, which is now firmly built around Chibi’s vocals and the huge hooks they provide. Songs such as the title track and “Always” are easily some of the catchiest in the band’s repertoire, but even the weakest tracks have choruses that will get stuck in your head and refuse to fade away. Luckily, this huge leap in songwriting is enough to cause any backlash from the lack of a few elements to be negligible. Also, although they had to sacrifice a bit of atmosphere to achieve their desired aim, they didn’t neuter their entire sound. The Birthday Massacre have never been known as a heavy band, but they’ve always had a prominent chunky guitar sound and it is still present and sounding better than ever.

In hindsight, the fact that The Birthday Massacre have chosen to drop their strange/eccentric undercurrent might be seen as a positive, because eventually it could have ended up being viewed as a crutch. Instead Pins and Needles proves that the band are excellent songwriters that are more than capable of creating albums that don’t rely on any gimmicks. The lack of a bit of personality and individual flair is more than made up for by some of the strongest songs in the band’s repertoire. Every track on Pins and Needles is expertly crafted and delivered with the best production of their entire discography. This could truly be the album that breaks the band into the mainstream with a sound and direction that is entirely professional while retaining most of what current fans have come to expect.



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user ratings (164)
Chart.
3.9
excellent
other reviews of this album
Nick Habisch (4.5)
The Birthday Massacre does it again......

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Pins and Needles is more or less what you would expect from The Birthday Massacre, except that this ...


Comments:Add a Comment 
Willie
Moderator
September 6th 2010



15909 Comments

Album Rating: 4.2 | Sound Off

It's not out until the 14th, but that's a busy week for releases so I'm posting this now.

Relinquished
September 6th 2010



24918 Comments


ugh want this now

Willie
Moderator
September 6th 2010



15909 Comments

Album Rating: 4.2 | Sound Off

Initially I was kind of disappointed that they dropped the darker elements, but I was over that by the end of the second full listen.

BallsToTheWall
September 6th 2010



44164 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

So stoked for this.

bloc
September 6th 2010



34768 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

There isn’t a single moment on this album that will create the kind of unease or even fun-haunted-house feelings of the previous releases.

Was afraid this was going to happen. But regardless, buying this one for sure.

Digging: Interpol - El Pintor

taroo
September 6th 2010



2126 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Oh... COOL!

DoubtGin
September 6th 2010



6748 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

name + cover = death doom

might check this one out

CutMan
September 6th 2010



1778 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Am I the only one who doesn't recall creepy moments being on Walking With Strangers...?

PayneTiger777
September 6th 2010



4388 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I need this soooo bad. Chibi is my new crush.

Willie
Moderator
September 6th 2010



15909 Comments

Album Rating: 4.2 | Sound Off

There weren't a lot of them on Walking with Strangers but now there isn't any.

helpmypantsareonfire
September 6th 2010



37 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Cannot wait for this CD... been watching the "In the Dark" video and listening to Shallow Grave on youtube for a couple of days now.

LG
September 6th 2010



3049 Comments


I'm actually interested in this, which is a surprise bc I didn't like much of their earlier stuff.

bloc
September 6th 2010



34768 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

GAAAH! THERE'S A VIDEO FOR ONE OF THEIR SONGS????

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X1Vf9HTgSEg

Zion
September 6th 2010



812 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I was worried about this album... but I'm relieved. "Always" and "Shallow Grave" are my current favorites... I do miss the creepiness of Violet, but as you pointed out, they make up for that loss in other ways.

LG
September 6th 2010



3049 Comments


That song is really boring Bloc.

bloc
September 6th 2010



34768 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

That song is really awesome Bloc.


LG
September 6th 2010



3049 Comments


You're right Lg, it is boring.

Poet
September 6th 2010



5922 Comments


Totally looking forward to this.

Rev
September 6th 2010



9404 Comments


I need this

Pebster49
September 6th 2010



2991 Comments


They sound okay, but listen to a few of their songs they remind me of too many bands that use the same structure in their songs. "In the Dark" sounded like a normal nu-metal radio song




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