I’m keeping within the realms of Karnivool and “Birds Of Tokyo” is a byproduct or maybe main product these days which features Karnivool vocalist Ian Kenny.
“Human Design” is the sixth studio album. It was released on 24 April 2020 and debuted at number 1 on the ARIA Charts.
The lyrics reflect on the breakdown of singer Ian Kenny’s marriage in 2017. Kenny stated in interviews he started writing to keep himself sane, and that he probably could have said things better in the lyrics, but he kept the honesty as is.
The bitter split also led to some changes for him as well. He was living in Melbourne at the time and he returned home to Perth. He shut down from people and went into healing mode. Alcohol is always a welcome friend in times like these.
Songs started appearing as single releases a few years before. “Unbreakable” came out in September, 2018. “Good Lord” came out in February, 2019. “The Greatest Mistakes” came out in August, 2019. “Two Of Us” came out in January, 2020.
The album had momentum. And sonically it was a bit different, more acoustic rock than alternative rock.
“The Greatest Mistake”
It’s also about the marriage breakdown, but with some perspective after the event, such as “It was 13 months ago / When I went through hell alone”, whereas “Good Lord” is raw and more in the moment.
“I’m done wasting all my time on perfection / All my failures are the reason I am who I am”
Relationships are a compromise, but how much does a person need to compromise before they fail to recognise who they are.
“Two Of Us”
A single note moving guitar riff plays over the chords of a piano. The vocal melody from Kenny hooks you straight away.
The massive Gospel like backing vocals in the Chorus gives the song a healing feeling.
After going through a lot of searching, Kenny moved on. He eventually found a new partner and they have a son. “Two Of Us”, “When Home Calls” and “My Darling My Son” capture these positive moments in his life.
“The two of us / we got it all / Don’t need no designer distractions
Cause in the end / I found a friend / My one and my only obsession”
Be who you are people. If you like your music loud, listen to it loud. If you like to dress simple, dress simple. If you like to hang at coffee shops, do it. Others like you, will find you, eventually.
It’s the massive break up song. Certified 2x platinum in Australia. It struck a chord with people, at the honesty and openness in the lyrics, something Kenny rarely did as a lyricist.
The video clip is unsettling. Kenny starts off the video looking normal but as it progresses, his fave starts to get bloodier and bloodier.
As Kenny has said in every interview I’ve read, he’s not the first person to go through a marriage breakdown nor will he be the last. But he never saw it coming, thinking that everything was okay. And then one day, he saw his wife with someone else.
“Drinking in Fitzroy pubs till two / Singing those Fleetwood songs with you / But it all changed when I saw you with someone else”
If you’ve been to Fitzroy, you would know Brunswick St, Fitzroy St, Gore St and George St. If there isn’t a pub on the street, there will be a cafe or a restaurant or a night club to hang and socialize in.
“I fell so hard to my knees / My eyes said no this can’t be / Who was that guy, he ain’t me / Good lord, good lord, good lord”
Falling in and out of love is common. I don’t know why people can’t get with someone after they break up.
Why cheat on your current partner?
Break up, then go and do your thing.
This one is raw.
Kenny writes about how his self-confidence was destroyed.
“Borrowed lines from other guys / To make me sound good / Terrified to be myself / When I know that I should“
We can’t help it. We always try to fit in and be liked. Hell, social media thrives on likes. And sometimes by “trying to be someone else”, we end up attracting the wrong people into our lives.
“I wish you could have loved me the way that I’m designed / I wish you could have seen how hard I had to try / To be somebody else in somebody else’s eyes”
I know a lot of people who said these things when relationships break down. I even said em to my wife when things weren’t going to good. And they got repeated back to me as well.
It’s important that we keep those special unique things about people in tact, instead of trying to make em fit some mold.
“When Home Calls”
From all the disaster of a break up there is always a new path waiting to be travelled.
“It’s 10.35 I’m on the last flight out of Sydney / Three thousand miles a little more wine and then you / I’m on a plane with two hundred souls / I can’t help but feel I’m alone“
I’ve caught late planes before, and it’s bizarre. Some people are just too gassed from the day to be alive and others are too buzzed, looking forward to their destination.
“I stare at my phone at pictures of you and our new born / I wonder if he knows that I missed his birthday this year / This trip away’s been the hardest by far“
Being on the road when you have a family is hard. A lot of people turn to addictions to cope with it. And you miss a lot of life, a lot of growing and you miss creating those memories with em.
And our phones are painful reminders sometimes of the things we miss. I have 13 years worth of photos available to me via my iPhone.
“Photo By The Lake”
“When you leave you have to take / That photo by the lake / In that place we were the best we’d ever been“
When relationships end, there are too many memories. Suddenly your favourite artist reminds you of them, or your favourite book.
And photos, man, they hold the most memories. These days, each photo is just a delete button away but when photos are printed, it’s an albums worth of destruction.
It starts off with this acoustic/banjo lick over an C to F chord progression.
“I felt a shift in the sand / As you pulled away from my hand”
Later on in the song, Kenny sings about holding on to her hand as long as he could, but she pulled away, breaking the connection.
“How could you leave me here my friend / Somewhere between alive and dead / I thought we’d make it to the end / Don’t leave me Addison”
Its weird how it’s all worked out. Kenny used music to cope with the separation, but after the success of this album and the songs as singles, he needs to relive the separation each night when he performs the songs live on stage.
And to finish off the posts on Ian Kenny, Karnivool (which is the reason why I am a fan of Birds Of Tokyo in the first place) are working on Album Number 4, due around May/June this year.
6 thoughts on “Australian Method Series – Birds Of Tokyo”
Such a great band, am still yet to see them both live. And yes a very good album and hits home with a few songs. I still love their self tilted album, so many good songs with Circles taking the cake, has so many subtle layers, I also think this album deals with breakups also
Sometimes the music gets too much same same but Kenny’s voice rocks
Couldn’t agree more
And I have the same relationship with Something for Kate
I’ve never given SFK any time. I think I will be soon.
Maybe start with Beautiful Sharks