Melodic hardcore stems from hardcore’s expansion of emotion beyond its base in primitive anger. Birds In Row take full advantage of their impassioned spectrum of emotion and dynamics. The French trio’s 2012 debut full-length, You, Me & The Violence, channeled rabid aggression into Converge-esque noisecore to a gut-wrenching emotional sum reminiscent of Touché Amouré and the early works of Mewithoutyou.
In 2015, Personal War lived up to its name by streamlining Bird In Row’s aesthetic and deepening their inward journey. That’s something this third LP aims to top. We Already Lost The World uses diversified compositions and lyricism to direct the introspection of its predecessors into a fiery outward appraisal.
With opener “We Count So We Don’t Have To Listen,” Birds In Row—whose members are known simply as B., T. and Q.—hit hard and unapologetically with their vocalist and guitarist’s convicting critique of the trivialized plight of the dispossessed. The drummer and bassist accentuate his bombastic riffage with their tight syncopation, but the band’s arrangements maintain savagery to coincide with unhinged howls.
“Love Is Political” continues the lyrical narrative with an affirmation of compassion in the midst of strife: “Love is defiance/ Defiance is necessary/ Love is disobedience/ Love is political.” No generic breakdowns get in the way of Birds In Row’s emotional overdrive, implying the viscera of their roots as a springboard into emotional resonance.
A nuanced indie rock groove is the glue of “We vs. Us,” providing the first major head-turner on the tracklist. A demure singing register abruptly jumps up and down, guiding the song into a mid-tempo 16th-note groove. Even as Hirigoyen reaches almost hysterical levels of emotion, the instruments remain fastly tied to the song’s original rim-click drum pattern. Even the controlled chaos of “Remember Us Better Than We Are” fluxuates in junction with screaming so crazed it almost seems freeform.
Both tracks feature distinct dynamic shifts, allowing the cracks in Hirigoyen’s voice to pierce like a javelin. In the case of “Remember…” Duchesne and Dilis’ earthy groove resolves into ethereal post-rock chords, exemplifying the band’s willingness to sacrifice brawn for intimacy.
We Already Lost… manages to provide unique vibes without shoehorning gimmicks into its runtime. “I Don’t Dance” earns its place as the single on the album with its more familiar themes and more catchy melo-core vibe, juggling several distinct rhythm structures without diverting from its 6/8 rhythm structure. Still, the songwriter’s fear of the pain of the “dance” of love makes the song more than just a sum of its parts. “It’s raining knives inside the ballroom/ And you dance on broken glass/ It’s all you’ve been told to do/ After long years that wouldn’t pass,” he shrieks as explosive drums and panicked guitar strains build to an overwhelming climax.
Birds In Row present their work as collaborative expression, always allowing room for their artistic chemistry to breathe in the midst of their hectic approach. Even the hammering hardcore punk beats and simple guitar strumming of “Triste Sire” highlights songwriting chops instead of smashing through its minute-and-39 runtime. This leaves cuts like “15-38” and “Morning” to differentiate the trio by incorporating multiple elements into truly rapturous results. The latter hinges a self-loathing monologue of isolation and desperation on a straightforward garage rock feel, while the former capitalizes on the album’s dynamism to take the album’s title to its unhappy conclusion—shouting the abysmal epiphany regarding life’s chaotic spiral. Birds In Row are unafraid to ask as many questions as they answer in We Already Lost…, using their unified artistic vision to force their enquiries into the limelight.
“After the desert there is a sea of dust and bones/ And the bits of shallow water left hide in their wombs fossil inspirations/ The sea runs dry/ We lose hope;” the cataclysmic closer “Fossils” injects one more shot of frenetic post-hardcore adrenaline before leaving listeners to ponder this final fruit for thought. From the abrasive snare rolls of its intro to the rising tide of feedback that builds to a hard-cut end, this track embodies how this album grabs listeners by the throat and forces them to confront the brokenness within and without.
Birds In Row make We Already Lost… not only an impressive musical display, but a rallying cry for those worn down by life’s hopeless disarray.
Follow editor Max Heilman at Twitter.com/madmaxx1995.