The Other Side of Darkness
Night Birds know how to kick things off. “Demon Haunted World” is the perfect album opener: badass intro, building to a speedball of a song that slambangs into the second track, “Neon Gray,” without missing a step. I’ve listened to this album fairly much nonstop since it showed up, and I’m still not quite sure where one ends and the other begins. This interconnectedness demonstrates right off the bat that The Other Side of Darkness is assuredly an album, differentiating itself from the band’s prior singles with a thematic sense of purpose.
The album is called The Other Side of Darkness for a reason. When you take revenge pictures and apocalyptic visions of the future for your lyrical inspiration, things are never going to be positive. While the lyrical content’s the more fantastic aspects of the dark side, Night Birds are still dealing with the dark side.
Night Birds have always taken late-night horror movies and sci-fi themes for their songs, but this time around, it seems like every track can be traced to some form of specific trashy entertainment. “Landfill Land,” in addition to being a paeon to the group’s home state of New Jersey, brings up imagery of both the Toxic Avenger and Street Trash. “One Eye” is quite literally the plot of Swedish revenge picture Thriller: They Call Her One Eye: “they hooked me on drugs […] killing and revenge / everyone will pay.”
“Hoffman Lens” takes the consumerist critique of They Live and makes it explicit. If you want to get really crazy deep and over-analyze, you could say that choosing a movie set in Los Angeles is a way to tie the band’s surf punk to the genre’s progenitors like Dead Kennedys and Agent Orange. That might be taking things a little too far.
There’s an undescribable sense of deeper darkness in the music here, as well. Maybe it’s because this is an album, as opposed to a single or EP, but the whole of this LP operates in the lower registers of the scale, rather than the higher notes. It’s like listening to “Pipeline” by the Chantays, versus the Ventures’ “Walk – Don’t Run.” The former is ominous – like The Other Side of Darkness – while the latter is rather upbeat and fun, like the Midnight Movies EP.