In 2018 French trio Birds in Row stepped out of the shadows of the DIY hardcore underground and stamped their mark on the alternative music scene with the release of We Already Lost The World. Four years later the three-piece are ready to share their latest offering in the form of Gris Klein. As with many bands who had to put their lives on hold during the pandemic, this is reflected in the new music from Birds in Row. Rather than a miserable pondering on isolation, the album is by turns raging, poignant and beautiful.
Opening song ‘Water Wings’ reintroduces the listener to that distinct guitar tone which fans have now come to associate with the band and shouted vocals from frontperson B, which always seem to carry a level of desperation in their delivery. The song itself is catchy but also chaotic, a formula which the trio have got down to a fine art. With the lyrical content of Gris Klein being forged over the lockdown period, there is an element of isolation and struggle in what B has put into these new songs, but something that will never leave the band is addressing the state of the world and the current political climate. ‘Cathedrals’ and ‘Daltonians’ confront the crisis of misinformation and police brutality, as well as broader issues of immigration and governance, showing that the band still put their frustrations with the world front and centre.
The lead single ‘Nympheas’ acts as a great anchor point for the record, starting off with some of the most chaotic drumming you will hear on a hardcore record in 2022, before levelling out to a groove which Birds in Row have almost made their trademark at this point. In the four years since We Already Lost The World, Birds in Row have really honed in on their sound and with the songs from Gris Klein you can visualise them being performed on bigger stages once they hit the road to support this record. By refocusing their energy into their music it has allowed Birds in Row to add new elements to their songs, with some really interesting riffs and melodies played throughout, including some expansive electronic elements. The band aren’t afraid to play with the unexpected when it comes to their music and they have once again pushed the boundaries of their own unique style. This is highlighted best on the track “Trompe l’oeil” where the band slows things right down and B once again showcases their vulnerable side; it’s probably the closest that Birds in Row have come to writing a ballad of any kind. But showing this softer side of their music just emphasises the punch halfway through the track when B goes feral in their delivery.
Gris Klein is a masterclass from a band who is putting their best foot forward and truly showcasing what it means for a band to grow and progress.
Gris Klein is out on Friday via Red Creek Recordings and can be ordered here.
Words: Tim Birkbeck