Month of Birthdays – Lost in the Translation

Month of Birthdays
Lost in the Translation

A while back, I read a review of Month of Birthdays and thought it sounded great. So I went out and bought the album, surprised to find this British band in my local indie store. I must say, I wasn’t as impressed as I wanted to be. The songs were loud and driving and powerful, but the vocals turned me off. Turns out, I bought the band’s first album. This, then, is Month of Birthdays’ second album, and it’s oh so much better. Where the first one showed potential, Lost in the Translation shows the band reaching their creative goal. Oh, and new vocals, supplied by Cath, are so much better.

Month of Birthdays play a style of music that lies somewhere between emo and heavy rock and soft pop, all at once. This band is not at all afraid to go from loud to soft several times in one song. And these 5+ minute songs are long enough to do so. Keep your hand near the volume control, because at times they die down to just a subtle bass line or almost breathed vocal and at times they explode loud and fast and heavy, with loud, crunchy guitars. The vocals are delivered with a power and emotion and intensity that is quite impressive, especially when faster. Cath at times reminds me of PJ Harvey in her singing style, although she has a far greater vocal range.

“Monocellular Motion (Squared)” starts off very low and quiet. Turn up your stereo, but keep your hand near that volume control. It’s intense, low-end guitar driven. “Familiarity is not a reason for complacity, that has become my life,” Cath sings passionately. The oddly named “Of Chickens” has a Jawbox style drumbeat throughout. This is one of the louder songs, rhythm-driven and pounding, especially when the guitars kick in. Just listen to the beauty that the band manages to portray on their quieter moments, such as in “Salvage of Empty Vessels,” one of their slower songs that still has those crunchy guitars and builds slowly, slowly, louder, angrier. You can barely hear Cath as it gets so quiet on “Anticipated and Intercepted,” her vocals accompanied by a barely-plucked guitar and fading to silence for many seconds (a little too long) before finally coming back with the sounds of the ocean and gulls, then building and building, louder and louder with almost metal-riffs in this 11-minute opus. “Fahrenheit 451” is the most poppy and most consistent of the songs, although it also slows down to a quieter, more introspective moment. Cath’s vocals are especially pretty here, as she sings, “it’s not the dying that bothers me, it’s the living.” But I don’t think any other song has the intensity of “Curtailed Through Recognition,” which also has a killer guitar riff and drumbeat. The album finishes with “Idism,” a 9:30-minute instrumental that starts off slow and somber and building to a driving, pounding sound before ending quiet and peaceful.

If you like passionate, powerful music that goes from loud to soft and back, Month of Birthdays is your band. Very talented, very driving, very unique rock with an edge. Check out this British band, and make sure you get this album, not their first one.

By the way, their album cover looks like a plain pale green, but it actually has the band name and album title in Braille. The Braille alphabet is printed inside, in case you’re bored and want to learn something.