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Birds of Tokyo
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  • There's a legion of post-grunge bands out there who are perfectly content to play the same songs over and over, and that makes Birds of Tokyo's eponymous album, which at least tries to push the envelope, a welcome effort regardless of what the guys actually accomplish. Truth be told, though, they do accomplish plenty, though not enough to get completely out of their league. The opening track is quick to show they know how to conform to style standards -- while making great songs at that, with hooks, dynamic tempos, arena-sized choruses, and sweet, sweet sentimentality in just the right amounts: the sort of tune Third Eye Blind have been trying to nail for years, scoring on no more than one try out of three (maybe less). More stuff in the same vein, mixed with a dash of emo, also makes its way onto the record, but the group also wastes no time showcasing its aspirations, going for Broadway-like Muse theatrics on track two, and proceeding to veer between the two extremes from there, with smooth, sleek, straightforward pop/rock nuggets giving way to nerve-racking epics complete with background strings and huge choruses. In some instances, the more dramatic tunes squeezed between the pop nuggets break the flow of the album, but both sides of the coin are equally high quality, and most of the time the boys do manage to squeeze all of their inspirations into one song ("Circles" is a good example), sounding a bit like more mature Smashing Pumpkins, with denser arrangements and grimmer attitude, but hooks just as big. The bombast still feels overblown most of the time, but the more restrained songs are even better by comparison, and if the bandmembers needed to get it out of their systems to write tunes like the opener or "Wild at Heart," it's still a good tradeoff. ~ Alexey Eremenko
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