Birds of Tokyo – Human Design (2020)

I’ll admit it, I completely shunned Birds of Tokyo for a long time – they’re not my thing – they’re too soft…  How silly of me.  Earlier this year, I witnessed the band live, as they supported Cold Chisel.  They won me over, and I walked away a fan.

Human Design is the bands sixth full length album, and it’s arguably a career best.  It’s a deeply personal album, with frontman Ian Kenny addressing the personal matter of a devastating break-up – the album becomes almost conceptually about the stages of grief following said break-up.

There are songs of the initial pain (Good Lord), despair (Designed), defiance (Unbreakable), acceptance (The Greatest Mistakes) and moving on (Never Going Back).

All of this personal material is so well written and performed, that you really start to empathise with the situation that Kenny went through.  It’s not a completely unique situation – most people have gone through a difficult ending to a relationship, so it’s easy to become emotionally involved in this record.

This is certainly a more “pop rock” album than it’s predecessor (2016’s Brace), but with such well written songs, and the brilliant orchestration that adds colour to even the most depressing of the songs, this is a really easy album to engage with.  It couldn’t be further removed from a “party record”, but there are certainly moments where this will provide a perfect listening experience.

Several singles have been previously released over the last 18 months (Good Lord, Unbreakable, Two of Us and Greatest Mistakes), so there is also the added bonus of an instant familiarity with the material that sucked me in to the album as well.

Birds of Tokyo have music for all occasions, and with that, they may just be one of Australia’s best rock bands right now.  Human Design is a more than worthy edition to their discography, and your own music collection.


Shayne McGowan.

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