Is the “bird” still “striking”? You might be asking yourself that.
In 2012 they had a dream, embodied by a magpie circling above the city, looking down at the crowds below sticking strictly to the straight and narrow, and proudly screaming: “Hate me? You’re old!” And now? Where has all that hot-blooded passion gone?
Five years later, BIRDSTRIKING releases their second album, Holey Brain (头上的洞), calling all young people to seize the moment and “open up their mind caves”. Don’t waste your body’s boiling passions, the band urges — one should seize the future struggle right now, use imagination and action to turn dreams into reality, and in this spirit send a near world soaring!
On Holey Brain, Birdstriking tells a story of the post-’90s generation’s coming of age. “What is there to say? 25 years old, day one.” This is the first line from opening track “25”, beginning the album with a vow to the future. Young people who’ve just entered adult society in turn become the subject of that society. In the process, they gradually realize that as “hot blood flows in the body”, one must use “both hands to fight the future”. The world might wait but time does not; one must seize every moment, blood boiling!
On “Up to the Sky” they sing about the daily grind, repetitious labor and the possibility of breaking through to a splendid horizon on the other side of the mundane. On “Feed” they use fairytale language to describe this scene: baby birds grow up raised by mother birds, leave the nest, fly towards a bigger forest, look forward to taking care of their parents in their old age. They eat their mothers’ wrinkles, making their youth shine again… From a fairytale to an oath, the song unfurls like a scroll, telling the story of a generation coming to maturity like a bird just now hitting its stride in the blue, open sky, soaring without fear.
Holey Brain praises the charm of the current era. If you could say that the language of punk rock can only be critical, then Birdstriking now wants to break apart this definition, and make up their own language. They encourage the hot-blooded struggle of entrepreneurs, extol the builders screwing together space-flight infrastructure, admire the sci-fi novel Three-Body Problem and its concept of a floating brain spanning the universe, overcoming darkness, finally saving the human race’s protagonist, Yun Tianming.
They sing in praise of struggle and courage, of blue skies and motherly love. Birdstriking gives these open and candid, bright and energetic stories to the listener, a new context with which to correct anyone who misunderstands Chinese rock’n’roll as lacking truth and beauty. They present these songs as a signal for a generation that long ago lost any sense of Red Song aesthetics, shouting in the deafening voice of China’s youth of today.
Birdstriking has attained the distinctive voice of a mature band. From the first time they took the stage in 2009 to now, from launching as a trio to their current state as a five-piece band with three guitars, Birdstriking has crafted an explosive sound, a sound that’s grown fuller and richer with time. They’ve absorbed a wide range of influences over the years, from European and American psych and art rock of the 1970s, to blistering punk of the ’80s and ’90s, to the “New Beijing Sound” of the early 21st century. Now, they’re like a hatchling released from its shackles, and have arrived at their own “Birdstriking sound”.
Holey Brain was produced by Ricky Maymi, guitarist of San Francisco psychedelic rock band The Brian Jonestown Massacre, whom Pitchfork has described as a modern day Velvet Underground.
Now, their dreams have awakened. Get up, pour the boiling blood into your youthful frame, fly over the universe’s deepest chasms, crash into the future’s golden moment. They’re ready. Are you?