2013 album March Fires from Birds of Tokyo is deservedly one of the most successful albums of that year.
I must admit that I knew of this band, but it was their performance of “Lanterns” on the 2013 ARIAs that made me want to own a copy of the album. It was all about the music – Ian Kenny didn’t even look like your typical rock star in his suit, but he sounded amazing. The lights that would illuminate to the beat of the song really became the “lanterns”. As the most anthemic song on the album, it really created a “moment” that night for the crowd and viewers. The song can be interpreted any way, but I think it is about being yourself and making a stand. “On we’d march till we meet the dawn, we will light our way with our lanterns on”. It is about standing up for what you believe in and moving forward no matter what. As one of the most played songs of 2013, you could hardly turn on the radio without hearing it.
As I listen to this album, I can’t help but feel that they are becoming Australia’s answer to U2 with their “wall of sound” feel. “White Leaves” is a real nod to U2’s “New Years Day” in my opinion and the lyrics of most of the songs are very meaningful, much like U2. “Even on cold days, my door’s always open” Ian sings in “Boy” – is this because he is already a cold person and can’t feel anything? Or does he feel so much he needs the air? So we are questioning everything much like Bono makes us do with his lyrics.
Which brings me to what I think is another standout track – “Liquid Arms”. The way the drums and the whole arrangement just build and build reminds me of “Where the streets have no name”. When the band hit the crescendo, and Ian sings “wake up” it’s a real “we have lift off” moment.
“When The Night Falls Quiet” is another single off the album that got airplay. Home and Away fans with a keen ear may have heard the song in an episode in February. Another anthemic song to bring people together, it tells us that we are all on this planet together and all feel alone at times.
Having the album recorded and produced mainly in LA was worth it – it was an ARIA No.1. “Lanterns” made it to Number 3, and was used on the promo ad for season 2 of Revenge here in Australia. American Dave Cooley produced the album as did Adam Spark on “Blume”. Cooley was a member of the band Citizen King before becoming a producer on his own with Elysian Masters. His production complemented the band’s rock sound but gave it a modern twist using more synthesisers and the result “softens” the bands overall vibe. Instead of being disappointing to the listener however, it just makes the experience of listening to the album all that much better. You are never wondering why a guitar riff or drums was put in a certain place, everything just flows. Even Ian Kenny’s delivery just blends with the band instead of shouting at us.
With Anthony Jackson leaving the band in 2011, bassist Ian Berney makes his debut here. Notably, the artwork for the album and singles was done by Leif Podhajsky who has also done album covers for The Vines and Tame Impala. A great artistic statement as is the music.