September 9, 2010

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Birthday Massacre, Pins & Needles
Metropolis Records, Sept. 15
Metropolis Records rightly had a lot of faith in this Canadian gothpop band after the success of their 2005 debut LP Violet, and then reality raised its cruel head: Metropolis Records, which has been the Chicago Cubs of big-ass indie labels for too long now, must have pooped a black-and-pink day-glo brick when TBM’s second album Walking With Strangers had to go and be so mediocre. Violet drew its music from ’80s hair-chick bands and slick street-metallers while fronting a core trip that amounted to the Little Sisters characters from the BioShock video game stuck in a haunted house, ie these guys should own Halloween. The unspeakable fail of WWS, however, sent them back to the whiteboard, and the result is a more feasible sequel to Violet (although it’s obvious someone either outside or within the band won’t shut up about Lacuna Coil; there’s too much busy-dingbat nu-metal guitar in there). Other than that (and the fact that the quietly rumbling skits between songs are too brief and stupidly random) it’s great — they stole/came up with some great new hookage (the title track is reminiscent of Frida’s “There’s Something Going On”) and added a few new ingredients (the Duran Duran guitar in “Shallow Grave” and the “99 Luftballoons” empty-headedness in “Midnight”) into their crockpot. There’s still a level of horror-cartoon over-the-top-ness they’re afraid to attempt, but that’s Canada for you. BEric W. Saeger