Review Summary: The album title says it all.
When Pins and Needles
was released in 2010 many viewed it as the logical, if not completely wanted, next step for The Birthday Massacre. While earlier albums, 2005's Violet
especially, contained elements of a harder sound the band was slowly embracing their more pop oriented eccentricities. With Hide and Seek
the Canadian group aptly name the
musical game they are playing with themselves, while providing fans with a mixed experience in the process.
Opening with the sound of rainfall and shattered with a drum hit reminiscent of a metal pipe being struck, album opener "Leaving Tonight" recalls the sound of Walking With Strangers
in its ambiance, while snuggling up to Pins and Needles
vocally. An attempt is made at drawing the listener in with the vocal hook "I wanna go home"
but the idea doesn't quite reach completion, as the tracks slower moments have been done before (and better) in previous albums. The attempt to bridge the musical gap is the songs downfall, and sadly is a repeat offender throughout Hide and
Lyrically the band has always been stalwart, but on this album it seems as if more and more the group relies on Chibi's vocal delivery and small background touches to deflect from the oft repeated lines and more simplistic structuring. "Play With Fire" is an excellent example of this, as Chibi delivers and excellent performance while crooning "Her house of red light, burns like, your wanting eyes
" before returning to the tracks title. With the shorter track times of the album this really hinders any attempt at crafting something lyrically grand, and though Pins and Needles
did this to an extent as well having the band focused wholly on one sound refined the results and added depth to the lyrics; here there is only a sense of deja vu.
This is also a concern for The Birthday Massacre's distinct soundscape, succinctly put the album sounds like a collection of B-Sides. "Down," with its out of place screaming (and guitar intro Ala "Redstars"), could have come from Walking With Strangers
. "One Promise" tries to harness the power and pop hooks of Pins and Needles
but fails, and "Calling" could have fit on the EP Looking Glass
with its almost Depeche Mode beat. Indeed the only real surprise is album closer "The Long Walk Home" which actually manages to carve its own niche in the bands sound albeit too little too late.
The Birthday Massacre have until now been a group that released above average or simply stellar material, but Hide and Seek
mares this track record and sets back any expectations for a true follow up to their newer direction. Trying to combine multiple elements from their discography, the band seem to be grasping at musical ideas already fleshed out in prior albums, leaving Hide and Seek
to be their weakest release to date.