Birds Of Tokyo
March Fires



by Pistol Pete USER (37 Reviews)
March 2nd, 2013 | 7 replies

Release Date: 2013 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A solid feel-good album that could have done with that little extra bit of variety to lift it to escalating heights.

For anyone who actually got around to listening to Birds of Tokyo’s This Fire EP from earlier in October 2012, follow-up album March Fires might be just about the least surprising thing you’ll hear all year. It picks up right where the EP left off, a track list chalk full of those emotional and uplifting choruses backed by ambient synth beats and entrancing poppy tones. It’s designed to be a “feel-good” album, something meant to pick you up after a hard day, make you feel like you can achieve anything. A little superficial? Sure...but you can’t fault the band for being a little excited after testing the waters with an EP of similar ideas that ended up being consistently impressive from start to finish. It was interesting to see how far they could stretch that idea without it getting old and an EP just didn’t feel like enough.

March Fires is also a solid album from start to finish, but it’s the reason behind why it’s solid that’s the problem. It’s just over 45 minutes of the same song being played over and over again. This has its pros and cons. On the one hand, there really isn’t a song that jumps out as downright terrible (except maybe the pointless second instrumental “Blume” that really just stalls the listener in getting to what’s possibly the best song on the album in the form of “Boy”). But most of the album’s highlights are, frankly, the songs we’ve already heard. Both “Boy” and “This Fire” were heard on the previous EP and they’re stellar, but we’ve already had our time to soak them in. Single “Lanterns” brings with it one of the album’s most upbeat tempos equipped with a warm “can-do” attitude. Its emotional chants and themes of growing up and being anxious about what lies ahead are something a young listener can resonate with. But again, we already heard it released before the album, so what’s left exactly?

I’m being unfairly harsh, and this review is not meant to dissuade you listening to the album. But taking a leisure stroll through it sees the listener met with a strange sense of déja-vu all over the place. Opener “Liquid Arms” so obviously borrows its song structure from “This Fire”. It too has a subtle-toned beginning leading into an angelic verse with Kenny’s soothing echoes and eventually catapults into a climactic chant to end the song in style. The band has clearly taken the same route as Coldplay and injected their music with a healthy blend of keyboards and pop influences to deliver uplifting soft rock. The key thing Birds of Tokyo forgot is to keep the variety and diversity of their album in check. Coldplay very well crossed over into pop territory with Mylo Xyloto, but you were still met with acoustic tracks and piano ballads amidst their gleaming and soaring pop singles. It ensured the album stayed fresh longer. I can’t yet say the same for this album, as too many other songs follow the same strategy as “This Fire”. Maybe Birds of Tokyo need to look back and see if any of their previous alternative rock sounds and themes deserve to be dusted off and reworked into a fuller and more diverse sound to compliment what they’ve already accomplished here?

March Fires does have its own share of shining moments and soaring melodies. Ian Kenny is a master at creating luring choruses with charming hooks. “White Leaves” is an interesting twist with a rapid drum beat and a nice steady pace that takes it’s time in getting to the emotional peak, choosing not to show it off right away like most other tracks here. It ends up feeling rewarding and, more importantly, earned by the band. The album’s overall themes and lyrical content are cute, touching, and relevant to a young generation that constantly asks itself each day “why am I not like the others?”, who both fear and anticipate “the weight of being so much more”. The analogy of a lantern is corny for sure, but just an innocent attempt to reach out and let them know there’s always help and that “we’re all in this riot, we riot as one”.

Birds of Tokyo’s fourth offering sees Ian Kenny finally get all of his buzzing indie pop ideas down on one nice neat little plastic package. It’s a brave attempt at breaking away from their alternative rock origins. It does feel a lot safer than their undisputed classic Universes and suffers from a slight bit of repetitiveness. But if we were to pin it down to that one key saving grace the album has, it’s that it’s pleasant. You won’t leave the album with a song quite as catchy as “Head In My Hands” or as gut-wrenching and powerful as “Train Wrecks”, but you also won’t walk away wanting to ruin someone’s day or get into a fight with them. And in this day and age of aggression and fierce competition (especially among young people just entering the real world), that’s not a bad thing.

Recommended Tracks: Lanterns, White Leaves, Boy, Sirin

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user ratings (53)
other reviews of this album
Drummerboy123 (3.5)
"March Fires" see's the Bird's leaving their "rockier" side for a more quaint and pop focused one, y...

Comments:Add a Comment 
March 2nd 2013


Album Rating: 3.5

Bring on Karnivool. My ears are ready!

March 2nd 2013


Well done, son. Have a POS.

March 2nd 2013


Album Rating: 3.5

Thanks a bunch. Love your avatar, I wish I could pos that but it's just not meant to be.

Staff Reviewer
May 18th 2013


Album Rating: 3.3

The punchy rock of 'Universes' appears to be a thing of the past for Birds of Tokyo, if their 4th LP 'March Fires' is anything to go by. Consolidating on last year's 'This Fire' EP, the Aussie band have added keys player Glenn Sarangapany to deliver a more moody, atmospheric & expansive sound. The delicacy of Ian Kenny's soothing vocals suit this atmosphere, but the "pleasant", "mellow" & "serene" direction won't be to everyone's liking. Extremely cohesive, this 47 minute album is ultimately too consistent in sound & tempo for its own good. Recommended Tracks: Lanterns, When the Night Falls Quiet, This Fire & The Others.

May 18th 2013


Album Rating: 3.5

unfortunately, that's true (it has worn off on me pretty quickly, but that's what i expected)

May 23rd 2013


all the songs are too similar and the lyrics (or more specifically, the themes) are too repetitive
still good but nothing great

June 16th 2013


Album Rating: 4.5

This was a weird one for me. I loved it on first listen and it grew on me. It was especially impressive live. It is very stripped back, but I think its beautifully mixed. That said, it was on my playlist for a couple of months and then it kind of bored me. Still think "The Others" is a great track.

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