When The Computers hit the scene two albums ago, their sound fused hardcore punk and garage rock with blues and soul music, creating an engaging and individual sound that nobody else was peddling. Naturally, as they grew and released more music, their sound developed and some of those rough edges which made this band such a quirky proposition. Birth/Death is their third album, and The Computers are unashamedly aiming straight for the mainstream.
The record opens with an a capella intro before going into recent single Want The News, Here's The Blues. The guitar introduction sounds like something by The Police, but when the song really gets going there are a lot of keyboards here adding a heavy dose of gloss. The production here is very slick and any hint of hardcore punk is more or less gone. Next up is This Ain't Right, a decent enough tune with a great (if incredibly short) instrumental section with rough guitars and bongo drums.
For an album by The Computers, Birth/Death is disappointingly conventional. The worst culprits of this are Weighed Down and Little Death which tread water and leave little impression. There are moments which start off worryingly but then turn into great songs, like NYE, whose intro could be from any pop artist, but thankfully it builds to a decent tune with a strong chorus.
There are also some moments which are inexcusably turgid, to be brutally frank. Crucifixed On You, a song with a title based on some poor word play which doesn't even work, is a fairly standard disco tune wherein the usual vocalist hands the mic to someone else in the band who delivers a flat verse which adds nothing. I'm all for bands experimenting but I have no idea what this band were thinking when they committed Pound for Pound to tape; this is a checklist of dreadful ideas - just irredeemable nonsense with cheap keyboard string samples.
It feels to me like The Computers have lost their way a little. Birth/Death has stripped The Computers of all their personality in favour of dishwater dull pop tropes. Bands should experiment and grow, but this is a definite misfire.
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