It’s been two years since the debut long player from Night Birds, a record which cemented the band's infectious punk/surf sound into the ears of many a discerning music fan, bringing the sound of the 1980s SoCal scene, mixed with hints of the Dead Kennedys and a good dose of the here and now, raging out of speakers all across the world. To be fair that album, The Other Side of Darkness, was pretty damn good and set the bar at quite a high level as to what Night Birds were capable of achieving, so any follow up had a lot to live up to.
It’s now 2013 and Born To Die In Suburbia basically smashes that bar into smithereens as Night Birds, fully charged and slightly revamped with a new guitarist, take a similar musical approach, but one which now sounds as if it a definite trademark of Night Birds rather than being an amalgam of any combination of different influences. This doesn’t really come as a surprise, as the taster for the album which came in the form of a four track 7-inch, containing one song off the album in “Maimed for the Masses” which clearly displayed in an openly brazen way that the band had somehow stepped up its game.
Born To Die In Suburbia announces itself with the ballsy punk/surf instrumental “Escape From New York,” continuing the band’s love of old horror/sci-fi movie references and once over, the title track wastes no time in showing the band off in all their glory with a rampaging delivery that knocks my senses all over the place. The song nicely encapsulates the possibility of not really achieving much in life, marooned in a suburban wasteland that can so easily stifle a person’s whole life, if allowed.
The band do shift around the speed a bit throughout the album, although there is no clanking of gears between tracks as they’re equally adept at the mid-paced tracks as they are when they’re working hammer and tongs to reach the end of a song. Further variation is also heard on “Less The Merrier” where there is a quite a thick, metal-like opening riff that leads into a mid to slow-paced song, showing that Night Birds really can deliver more measured tuneage without any loss in excellence; this track has qualities that bring to mind D.I.’s “Richard Hung Himself” in that it has quite a menacing sound. The song is themed around how it’s not always that great at Christmas time; a period of the year renowned for a high suicide rate due to the loneliness that many feel during the festive season.
Born to Die in Suburbia really does contain some great songs, with a distinct lack of filler across the fourteen featured here. Even though “Maimed for the Masses” is one of my initial favourites, it is easily matched by the likes of “Modern Morons,” “Nazi Gold” and “Villa Obscura” as well as the title track — but to be fair I should just copy the track listing here as all of those songs are essential to listen to.
2013 is proving to be a year full of quality releases and Born To Die In Suburbia is definitely a rip snorting classic for this and many other years to come.