One in the Linkin, Two in the Pink ’n’ Katy Perry
Throughout the 1990s and into this century, women did more than maintain their Top 40 pop success. They put a forceful stamp on other genres—hip-hop, country, alt-rock, even electronica—and expanded their crossover appeal and directions. Celebrate all that, but then turn on your local album-oriented rock station.
An awful lot of room for macho spinoffs from Guns ‘n’ Roses, Mötley Crüe and Creed among your traditional Floyd, Zep and Sabbath, right? What do you get when you hunt for the ladies of rock? Janis? Heart? Fleetwood Mac? It’s been almost a decade since Evanescence released “Bring Me to Life.” Garbage’s first hits have just about reached voting age. Is there a place for artists like The Birthday Massacre in rock fans’ consciousness, and is their new album, Hide and Seek, the one to lodge them there?
Sonically, the Toronto based synthrock band merge conceits that have worked for others in the past. In Linkin Park fashion, lead singer Chibi shifts between lilting melodies and harsh yells on “Down.” “Need” finds her despairing over an unrequited or absent love, her plaintive vocals and drummer Rhim’s stomping backbeat suggesting an aggro Pink or Katy Perry track. There are plenty of arrangements here familiar to fans of Lacuna Coil and Marilyn Manson (“Alibis”), as well as a general goth scene style for days.
If you’re a review-reading veteran and notice a whole lot of other artists’ names being thrown around, it might suggest the album in question is derivative and unoriginal. Yet if The Birthday Massacre weren’t doing some of these musical things first—like the stuttering electrics/electronics and euphoric chorus of “In This Moment”—at the very least they’ve stood alongside their contemporaries at the same time. Any issues with Hide and Seek are probably just tied to industry timing and A&R bullshit. Neither the album nor its creators can fix those.
This band’s been around almost as long as people like Amy Lee, with a discography just as deep. We can’t find a decent reason why others got to hog the spotlight while Chibi and The Birthday Massacre seemingly weren’t even invited to the stage. Yes, they sound like they’re playing catch-up, but what would be so wrong if they won at that game?