Born To Die In Suburbia
Grave Mistake Records
In the music industry, a good teaser goes a long way to wet the pallet and build an appetite. More specifically, a short EP or 7” vinyl record featuring a lead single and a couple of b-sides can set the underground abuzz and quickly rocket an album onto the short list of anticipated new releases.
Such was the case with New York and New Jersey four-piece Night Birds in the months leading up to their latest full length, Born To Die In Suburbia. Not only did the band throw down four killer tracks for their Maimed For The Masses 7”, but they managed to score a deal with the one of punk’s longest running go-to labels, Fat Wreck Chords, despite the good folks at Grave Mistake Records handling the finished product. And while unconventional, it’s not hard to see why Fat wanted their hand in the pot: Born To Die In Suburbia easily deserves a spot in this year’s highlight reel.
Ripe with loose hanging surf showmanship, Night Birds string together a splattered medley of hooks and jabs that plays on their reputation as tight songsmiths (think early Dead To Me or Riverboat Gamblers with more on the line). Opener “Escape From New York” rips open with an instrumental track that’s so bang on it almost feels like cheating. With a heavy bass and rapid surf clamoring, Night Birds instrumental tracks always get under my skin in just the right way. Transitioning cleanly into the title track, Born To Die In Suburbia reveals a broader theme than just that of the soundtrack to a breakout party.
Listeners come greeted with a scathing (and of course humorous) social analysis of the suburbs from which they seemingly cannot escape. Night Birds offer a peek behind the curtains and closed doors of the picturesque lifestyle often imagined with the cheerful glow of freshly painted white picket fences. Combining a clean-cut concept with their sloppy unkempt style, the tongue-in-cheek satire naturally raises many healthy smirks along the way. Pointed tracks like “Domestic Dispute” expose a culture of open windows and paper-thin walls privy to spousal fighting next door, the couple in question going “at it until 4:00am.” A few tracks later “Ads In My Eyes” spotlights the rampant consumerism defining suburban driveways and the interior of each accompanying house.
By about the time “Pretty Poison” rolls around the insanity revs up. “I’m Not Going Back To The Padded Room,” yelps Brian Gorsegner, touching on the taboo suburban topic of of mental health woes. The sickness continues into “New Cults” where Night Birds take their tunes into the shrouded world of Kool-Aid drinking, “blood at the alter,” shadow worshiping religious fanatics.
Interspersed with all sorts of zany guitar tangents and flash solos, each topic springs to life during its short run. While most songs leave their mark in just a minute or two, a few slow down for a quick breather, extending their run time by about a minute. “Nazi Gold” and “Less The Merrier” make the most of their time, anchored by the weight of messy chugging riffs.
If you’re a Night Birds fan, then Born To Die In Suburbia is the album you’ve been waiting for. Framed with subject matter worth tuning in to, the smart humour and energetic pace make Night Birds’ third outing undoubtedly their best.