“Now’s the time to fucking listen”
This entreating statement closes out the opening track, “We Count So We Don’t Have to Listen”, to Birds In Row‘s first full length release in six years. The calming thrall of this song’s opening chords give way to an emotionally charged battlescape of social criticism, imploring the listener to see the truth behind the statistics, to start treating one another like humans again. From the start it is clear that We Already Lost The World will be a gorgeous, heavy, heartbreaking call to arms for a world gone mad. “Love is Political” continues with an earnest call to arms. The musical composition on the track blends some exceptionally brutal moments with some interesting progressive sections, all the while carrying a very important message. Love as a weapon, as a political tool, as civil disobedience. The lyrics are timelessly crucial and so immediate in their need. The closing line, “I don’t hate you/I just don’t get it”, seems to embody the abhorrence so many have for the hatred, complacency, and ill will that consumes so many of our fellows in this age of uncertainty. Love must be the response.
“We vs. Us” sees Birds In Row flexing their songwriting muscles excellently, delivering an epic traversal through a pre-apocalyptic world wherein we are both our only support and our own true enemy. The song builds impressively from a rather calm moroseness to an embattled restlessness that bleeds hope and fury at equal measure. These dueling narratives carry throughout the lyrics, which foregoes most semblance of a traditional song structure in favor of something more mercurial. “Remember Us Better Than We Are” looks more inwardly, examining the isolation we experience as we attempt to be present in a world obsessed with social media. The first half of the song is punishing, exhibiting a howling fluidity that careens and bludgeons. Midway the group changes gears and delivers a somber instrumental that could by all rights functioned as its own track on the record, accenting the brutality that precedes and follows with with wordless beauty.
“I Don’t Dance” seems to conclude this particular arc on the record while beginning another. Scathing in its delivery, the song turns a critical eye on the facade of devotion, whether taking place in an unhappy marriage built on financial comfort or the capitalistic society that feeds on its disparaged. The imagery in the song suggests that rich or poor, the rot in the system of social norms is spreading uncontrollably, leaving emptiness and cynicism. Serving in some respects as the title track, “15-38” is grungy and brilliant, departing from the extremity that most of the record exhibits. The result is breathtaking, painting a picture of the fallout of a broken relationship amidst the putrescence of post-modernity. “Triste Sire” drives home the heartache of unfulfilled affection and the depression that can be all consuming. There’s regret and blame for the suffering caused and inflicted, only turning inwards near then end of this crushing track.
The closing pair of songs has Birds in Row reaching new heights of progressive songwriting while still functioning excellently in their traditional hardcore labeling. “Morning” is an anxious examination of oneself in a mystifying context. A familiar struggle is depicted here to come to terms with the path walked versus the person that has come to be. The spectre of loneliness ever present in the introverted mind that must scrimp and save just to make something presentable of itself. “Fossils” ends the record with both its most brutal and its most harmonious song. The lyrics hold brief reference to other songs on the record, suggesting that they are all linked in perspective and experience. Little more than a minute and a half of abrasiveness gives way to an extended sonic exploration that soothes the soul after the oppressive helplessness and emotional exhastiveness that runs throughout the record.
New to Birds In Row, it was difficult to draw any conclusions on We Already Lost The World based on their prior output. The group has crafted a record that stands on its own as an experiment in compositional density. Running a mere 34 minutes, this collection of songs is far from an easy listen. The songs demand attentive ears and a heart open to conceptual gut-wrenching. The first half of We Already Lost The World places the listener in the center of a sociopolitical hellscape wherein love and connection seems to be the key to surviving it. The second half cuts into the heart of it all and makes it known that love is no easy task. Making connections in a world isolated from itself is nigh impossible, and a mind may destroy itself without abundant acceptance and affection. Perhaps just short of a masterpiece and somewhere beyond accessible, We Already Lost The World is a beast of a record from a group that is coming well into its own.