Review Summary: righteous fury
Comprised of three members whose faces are virtually unseen in promotional images, prefer to go by single letters instead of full names, and interview only as a band, French hardcore collective Birds In Row have always done things rather unconventionally. Their unusual DNA is rooted in a desire for cohesion and focus; to worry about individual members is to pollute the vision of the whole, and Birds In Row want nothing more than to be crystal clear in their message. We Already Lost The World
is undoubtedly the closest the band has ever come to achieving their goals, a record that feels like an existential crisis put to tape as much as it does a traditional album.
The common thread tying We Already Lost The World
’s nine scintillating tracks together is a longing for peace and human connection. At times, it’s desperate (“Clean your ***ing mirror/may you hear someone else’s voice”), angry (“If only you gave me a ***ing break I would bear you at least/And I wouldn’t just lock up the doors/Do you know how much I try?”), and inquisitive (“I see no medals on any of us/and still we’re the ones who compete”). Charred, scratchy screaming vocals (and occasional singing) do the heavy lifting when it comes to conveying the wide emotional palette on display here, but that’s not to discount the strong instrumental performances throughout. Songs like the breakneck “Love Is Political” show that Birds In Row can shred with the best of them, but slower passages such as the elongated outro to “Remember Us Better Than We Are” carry a heft of their own, conveying the mood of the album perfectly without a single spoken word.
Musically, there’s never been more variety on a Birds In Row release. Lead single “15/38” bounces and grooves with the swagger of a late career Thrice song, just yellier. “We Vs. Us” builds for three minutes like a wind-up truck, but instead of rolling to the end of the carpet, it goes through the ***ing drywall. The opening minute and a half of closer “Fossils” recalls many things; swirling black clouds forming an F5 tornado, the grinding of axes on a war torn battlefield, blenders full of rocks. Thankfully, there’s an undeniable balance to the madness. When We Already Lost The World
needs to step on the gas, it goes, but when it wants to sit back for a mellow two-plus minute instrumental, that’s just fine too.
Birds In Row have hit a stride that feels special in a way that’s hard to describe. Where their hardcore contemporaries opt for machismo or vague metaphors for some internal strife, they show us nothing but the hearts on their sleeves. They’re scared, pissed, and ultimately human, and their eschewing of traditional band roles in favor of a collective shout into the void only makes We Already Lost The World
feel that much more crucial.