Releasing a first EP like a nice present with holes in the wrapping
EP review by carl perks
Most dance punk bands doom their credibility when their music fails to make the crowd move. This is usually due to the proportion of time they spend on-stage compared to off-stage.
When I saw all three members of Birthday Girls, a post/dance punk band from Ottawa, rocking out on the dance floor at the Dubma$hine rave on Halloween-Saturday, I knew that getting anyone’s two left feet to step into dance shoes was not an issue that was out of their comprehension.
They recently released a self-titled EP that concludes my hypothesis with concord. Though composed of only four songs, the album sets the band’s musical intentions in a promising direction.
Birthday Girls is Kyle Kilbride on vocals and bass, Kevin Donnelly on synth and Lloyd Alexander on drums. The trio makes a sound that is easily recognisable by the rather uncommon choice of instruments, whereas the bass is unaccompanied by a guitar and the keyboard is not used in conjunction with a drum machine. This unusual composition produces a musical style that is somewhat like the offspring of Does It Offend You Yeah? and Death From Above 1979, if bands had the capacity to copulate and conceive.
Furthermore distinguishing Birthday Girls’ sound is Kilbride’s manner of signing, as most vocalists would moan through heavily auto-tuned microphones when accompanied by dancy, beat-driven synth melodies, he chooses to scream his soul out with the voice of a whiskey-habituated, heavy-metal front man. Somewhat like a milder version of what [Trap] does when they have vocals.
Now having a different sound doesn’t always make the deal, with all the originality in the world, song composition is what causes the waves, but on the make or break scale, Birthday Girls’ first EP makes the break, but breaks even.
The record is divided in two sets of two songs. The first set, “Teenagers” and “Let’s Take This Party Downstairs,” is upbeat and dancy, reminiscent of The Strokes, and the better Shiny Toy Guns songs. The second set, “Balcony and Siren,” are slower songs, sounding more like the latest Yeah Yeah Yeahs works.
All of these tunes, with no exception, start out with excellence and talent, outfoxing electro-rock bands such as The Faint at their own game, stirring head-bobbing, action-inducing instrumentals with beautifully dirty and upbeat drums. The tracks are practically flawless until the choruses, where the melodies seem forced and out of place.
The songs’ refrains are in no way written without talent, but gorgeous keyboard and bass riffs such as the ones found at the beginning of “Siren and Balcony” lead to expect much more than is delivered. The same issue appears in the first set of upbeat songs where energy-inducing verses such as they are found in “Teenagers” reach an anti-climactic end when met with a chorus that is downbeat, yet non-the-less catchy.
Despite that hiccup of a problem, any chance to get your hands on Birthday Girls is a good one. Rock out to tunes like “Let’s Take This Party Downstairs” and hope that the whole piece of cake will be as delicious as this slice of an album.
And to address the matter of the choruses, this is this band’s first EP, considering the fact that they will only get better with time, was is there not to look forward to?