I only have one way to describe The Birthday Massacre – and that is magical. I started listening to them when I was about 15 and now 12 years later, they still manage to transport me back to that time of my life. Without fail, when a Birthday Massacre track comes on, my mind rewinds to my high school days of sitting in my room listening to Violet and trawling the internet for whatever obsession I happened to have at the time.
Under Your Spell is no different. From the moment that playful melody of “One” opens in the album – I am transported back 12 years. Not all that much has changed with their sound, and while that can often cause annoyance and boredom – I am glad that is the case with The Birthday Massacre. Perhaps it is my way of clinging to the past, but I don’t want them to change (too much). I want to always be able to relive my high school days through their music.
The Birthday Massacre have always been both light and dark; cute but evil. And if it isn’t broken, there is no need to fix it right? They have always had a 1980’s dark-wave electro feel. Chibi’s vocals are generally innocent and child-like creating a confusingly eerie atmosphere when layered with the heavier instrumentation. They have always had a bubble-gum pop feel, that messes with your head when placed in contrast to the lyrics. And while The Birthday Massacre have retained much of the above, they have continued down the road they veered onto with Superstition.
We started to hear them go down a slightly darker path in Superstition. Chibi’s vocals weren’t quite as child-like, the instrumentation slightly heavier, and the mood less happy-go-lucky. Under Your Spell has continued with these changes and while once again they haven’t completely changed their sound, it is enough to be different from the past; but similar enough to still be The Birthday Massacre we all know and love. The Birthday Massacre that can magically take me back to another time. “Counterpane” is certainly proof of that with some of the heaviest guitar we have heard from TBM. Chibi’s child-like vocals are a staple for TBM. They are often what most of us associate with the band. Throughout Under Your Spell however, Chibi’s vocals are child-like no longer. While still soft and innocent, that child-like timbre seems to be removed this time around. But the way that TBM play with melodies and synths, that true TBM atmosphere is still alive and well.
Under Your Spell continues to toe the line between dark and depressing, and light and fluffy – while they try to create something new after almost 20 years and 7 studio albums. Probably the best way to describe it, is that their sound is beginning to mature. Not in the sense that their previous releases were immature. Or that they are now old and boring. Growth. Perhaps growth is a better way to put it. Despite being at it for so long, they are still growing. We all are. So their sound may change a little with each release, but the core TBM is still there. Just like us. We change a little over the years. But we are still fundamentally us.
So if you grew up with The Birthday Massacre Under Your Spell is the logical next step you will take together. But if you are new TBM – don’t worry! It is never too late to jump in. And you can always travel back in time with them as you work your way through their back catalogue.