Concept albums are tough; most of them end up feeling really bloated, the ideas taking too much space from the music or the “gravitas” with which they are delivered leeching away a lot of the fun. That’s why it’s super important that bands don’t take themselves too seriously, either directly in the music or in the “meta” of it, like videos, cover art or the general aesthetic of the band. A good example is Canadian weirdos (a word we use with a heap of affection) Bird Problems. Their upcoming album, Tar, is a concept album revolving around a virus reminiscent of the zombie inducing one in works like Resident Evil. However, this virus’s effects are under debate: do they actually include people turning into zombies or are they just aesthetic?
You can see the potential for this to spiral into bloated pontification. Luckily, in both music and otherwise, Bird Problems are very much self-aware and cognizant of the dangers they run. On the music front, they play a mix of fusion and progressive metal which reminds us of Native Construct at times. You can hear this vibe on the second single released, “Ashes”. The piano ducks and weaves between the instruments and the approach to instrumentality is chromatic and varied. The other kind of tracks on Tar draw heavily from Protest the Hero, paddling in the more aggressive type of progressive metalcore. The variety between these styles of music keeps the album light where it might have been bogged down by just too much.
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Outside of the music, the band are just damn funny. Their videos, like the one below for “Succulent”, are a joy to watch. Beyond the somewhat awkward setups, acting and storyline which give them an intimate and off-the-cuff feel, the band just look like they’re having a lot of fun. The passion they have for their music coupled with their ability to goof around and make fun of themselves is frankly infectious and adds a whole other level of enjoyment to the album itself. Some of these rough edges are definitely present on the release itself, making Tar feel slightly off the mark at times. However, the album shows great promise for this young band; the musical ideas are more than sound and the execution is, more often than not, sleek and pleasing. It’s one of those “a band to keep your eye on” situation. Speaking of which, Tar releases on November 17th. Make sure to head on over to the band’s Bandcamp to pre-order it!