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Album Review: Birds Of Tokyo - Brace

1 November 2016 | 1:25 pm | Tash Loh

"Among the obvious themes of helplessness and resilience, it's the subtle points that really shine as highlights in this album."

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After exploring radio staples like Plans and Lanterns, Birds Of Tokyo seem to have had the kind of mid-career epiphany that either makes or breaks any artist's trajectory into iconism. The heavier sound is welcome as the band indulge. Bookends Harlequins and Mercy Arms solidify the grunge-goodness in between, sandwiched with Ian Kenny's distinctive vocals and encompassing guitar shreds.

Produced by Canadian David Bottrill, who's worked with the likes of Tool and Silverchair, the record is perhaps a metaphor for the band's career. Its crash-landing is worthy of a post-apocalyptic soundtrack. For this reason, it comes as no surprise that the album was written during the rise of Trump and the return of Hanson. The doomsday motifs continue through climactic Pilot, before the anthemic Crown takes over. The album is one to be played live, the songs lending themselves to the imagination of a listener capable of dreaming up the most remarkable light shows. Hayley Mary of The Jezabels makes an appearance on Discoloured, injecting darkly dystopic vibes into the so-real-it's-kinda-scary themes of being drawn right over the edge of the metaphorical cliff.

It's a brutal listen. Among the obvious themes of helplessness and resilience, it's the subtle points that really shine as highlights in this album. Above/Below features group a cappella that's jarring in the storm. Mercy Arms closes off by tracking the final moments of life support, a hauntingly harrowing end to the album. Brace is the kind of album that stays with you long after that last echo rings through your headphones.