Review Summary: Keep your love, I'm here for the music.
Have you ever had that cold wash feeling, sitting there in your pyjamas at 7:30pm of the evening, drinking a fresh brew – before going to bed an hour later – and realizing, just maybe, you’re a little out of touch with certain things as you're getting older; a little set in your ways, with an ultimate realization more and more things distort your own views as you get older, or, indeed, things go beyond your understanding entirely? There are certain topics an artist can touch upon that never did anything for me 20 years ago, failing to connect to the dreaded love/relationship thing is certainly one of them. So it becomes difficult to offer your complete immersion to a project an artist is offering when, right off the bat, you aren’t seeing eye-to-eye. Shunning the lyrical content helps, but in turn, it affects the replay value. Sure, I don’t mind the topic in question – if it’s handled less on the nose and in a more interesting manner, but overall, I find it really isn’t for me; less so as I grow older. However, while listening to The Birthday Massacre’s new album, I was met with a conflict of emotions on all fronts.
You see, this should be my worst nightmare: the album cover alone warns its listeners of a mushy, soppy Tim Burton-twisted love story that is reserved for the angsty teen, while the album title sounds suited to a Stephenie Meyer novel; but being that I’m a casual fan of the band I was willing to give this my attention. The results for Under Your Spell
are interesting: I was engaged by so many things this album got right; while equally menaced at a clash of things that don’t sway with my own views. Under Your Spell
’s overall production and tone has an ethereal quality to it: Chibi’s vocal effects hold the same level of gelling with instrumentation as a Chelsea Wolfe record would – and this is a great quality that managed to hold my interest until the end. The production makes the synth-pop and new wave influenced music supporting Chibi, weighty and powerful; coupling the two qualities together makes even the bland elements pertained here marginally interesting.
The drawbacks to this are as equally prevalent though; firstly, for all the novelty the production and its bells and whistles provides, the cracks on any one of the tracks soon begin to show around the halfway mark. The likes of “One” and “All or Nothing” set off promising, with a decent groove and accompanying synthesizer (Which is one of the more consistently strong qualities here.) galvanizes what are realistically, bland and uninspiring riffs. Furthermore, for everything Chibi gets right with her vocal arrangement and all-round solid performances, her lyrics just don’t cut deep enough for my liking: talking about a relationship gone wrong, or longing for that missing person is such a tired topic; and even though it would be idiotic of me to dismiss this subject matter as redundant – due to it being something every human being relates to – as I said before, there are ways around tackling this weary tale, and unfortunately here, a spade is a spade.
Still, it’s not a bad album. For all its shortcomings, I listened to Under Your Spell
with minimal effort; vocals and production work hand-in-hand at creating a pretty engaging sound, and fans of the band should find little to fault. For all my disliking of the insipid themes here, I still think it warrants a spin for interest, but for anyone immune to such topics, you’ll find even more to like here.
SPECIAL EDITION: N/A