There’s no better time for a Birds of Tokyo compilation album than right now. With 2015 marking the eighth anniversary of the release of their debut album Day One, and after the success of their last three albums in their native Australia, there’s a lot of material to work with. More than anything, it’s interesting to see their progression as a band over the years and the direction they may take as they continue in the future.
There’s been quite a drastic change since their humble beginnings: Opening on the poppy string sections of I’d Go with You Anywhere and the new age synth balladry of Anchor, it marks a distinct change from the alt rock of The Saddest Thing I Know and Broken Bones, let alone their aggressive post-grunge days, as represented by tracks like Off Kilter and Wayside at the tail end of the album.
The reverse chronological order of the album works well, easing new fans that may not have heard Birds of Tokyo’s earlier material into something a little different to what they’re used to from the band, and showing just much how they’ve matured over the years; it’s easy to see through the cracks on the songs near the album’s end (Barring Puzzle, a song from this year’s Anchor EP that closes the album), especially on Wayside: Swapping from the live strings recording of Medicine straight to the raw, unedited style of Wayside makes for a disconcerting moment on the album, offering the clearest view of the differences between the styles they’ve covered. The songs are all are enjoyable, yet show more flaws in the vocals and instrumentals than the overly polished modern songs.
The album does incite a newfound appreciation for the earlier years though; without Day One and the success of the following albums, Playlist might not have even happened. While they’re a very different band in comparison to their beginnings, their modern stylings are surely lead to more magic as we heard earlier this year on the Anchor EP. This is a fitting waymark for Birds of Tokyo as they enter the next phase of their career.