“There’s something in the dark and I want to go home/There’s someone else here; we’re not alone/This will all be over tonight” (from “Leaving Tonight,” track one of The Birthday Massacre’s Hide and Seek). Just in time for Halloween, Canadian sextet The Birthday Massacre delivers their fifth haunting (or perhaps “haunted” would be more appropriate) studio release, filled with 10 synth-heavy gothic tracks deeply rooted in new wave. Hide and Seek conjures up musical ghosts of New Order, Sneaker Pimps, and Lacuna Coil without losing The Birthday Massacre identity, which strongly adheres to their subtly nightmarish lyrics and to Chibi’s striking vocals.
The album’s first release, “Down,” is also a bit of a one-off from the rest of the tracks. Although not officially a single, the song was offered by Metropolis Records as a free download through RCRDLBL.com a week before the album’s release. While the verses meld well with the rest of the album and with the band’s dark fairy tale persona (pulling notable inspiration from “Ring Around the Rosies”) and while the song is not without merit, it is easily the heaviest track on the album. Chibi exercises her range with her guttural screams and with them the synth pop tone of the track morphs into something much more metal.
Typically, I am able to (within the first couple of spins) pull a favorite track from a new album to add to my ever-evolving, ever-growing lists of favorites (favorites of their catalog and favorites overall). Hide and Seek is consistently good from beginning to end, making that a nearly impossible task. As each track plays, I think maybe it’s the one I’m listening to. If I were forced—perhaps at gunpoint—to choose, I might make a desperate grasp for the catchy, upbeat “One Promise,” or maybe the lithe, ethereal “Play With Fire.” But the truth is, I really don’t see any one track on Hide and Seek that stands out as a favorite because they are all just that good. It is a pleasant listen, from its rain-soaked beginning to an end that comes far too soon. I would not have been at all disappointed in two or three more tracks.
One that could easily have been added to the length of the album is “Night Shift.” The instrumental track—unmistakably inspired by the music of John Carpenter’s films—has been added to Rue Magazine’s Hymns From the House of Horror list and is available for free download from the magazine’s website. And I strongly encourage that you do. Chibi is, of course, absent from the track but everything else fans love about the band is still present: haunting synths, a heavy bass line and a ghostly ambience.
Hide and Seek is to be released in the U.S. October 9, 2012 in mp3, CD and vinyl formats where available. Old fans of The Birthday Massacre will not be disappointed. New fans have something fabulous to look forward to.