Review Summary: A little less darkness, a little more synth pop.
The Birthday Massacre have always been a unique band. A mix of industrial rock with dark synths with a female vocalist is a rare thing, especially when it's done as well as this.
While they sounded a little burnt out on Hide and Seek, here on this record they sound rejuvenated. It might have to do with the fact that this album was crowdfunded on PledgeMusic, and I'm sure meeting 312% of your goal can be motivating for anybody. Chibi also sounds more energetic in her singing, especially on tracks like "Oceania", which wouldn't sound out of place on an 80s synth-pop album at the height of that genre's popularity. Similar to their previous effort "Pins and Needles", they dial back the darkness a little bit to bring a more synth-pop sound. But with gloomy tracks like "Destroyer" and "Surrender", it shows that they haven't forgotten their roots and are able to please both industrial and synth-pop fans without sacrificing the quality of their style.
One thing The Birthday Massacre excels at is atmosphere. While the vocals and musical style may not be that accessible to some people, the mastery they have at crafting a dark atmosphere with soundscapes cannot be denied. They have also mastered the subtle art of track order, which in some cases can make or break an album. Listening to this record cover-to-cover, you can tell that each track was placed in its respective spot with a purpose. As an example, take a listen to "The Other Side", when the album is at its darkest, and then listen to the seamless transition into the ambient closer "Trinity", which makes you feel like you've just completed a journey through a dark, creepy synth-pop dream. Transitions like these are done really well several times throughout the record, but this is the most prevalent one.
My only complaint about the album is that some tracks got a little monotonous after repeated listens. I tend to skip past tracks like "Diaries", "Surrender" and even the title track as they tend to drag on a bit. "Rain" gets a little too repetitive in both the lyrics and melody, despite the great instrumentation.
The Birthday Massacre are a massively underrated band, and it's an absolute joy watching them further developing their sound with each passing album. For newcomers to the band, this album is a great place to start. Don't let their niche look deter you from great music.