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  • Andy Mockbee

Review: "The Birthday Song" - The Habits

Many songs have been written about partying as a means of emotional distraction. On the latest single from The Habits, "The Birthday Song," the California duo turn this premise on its head. On the night meant for dancing and celebration, they find themselves pulled away by the past. The verses root themselves in a somewhat playful call-and-response between barbed lyrics and rumbling guitars. Sometimes the guitars growl in gritty distortion, clawing into the mix with ferocity and anguish. In the next moment, right when you expect "The Birthday Song" to spin its tires in the mud, The Habits soar into the brighter sounds of dream pop. Gauze-like synths filter the song's harsher tones into a bittersweet triumph. The resulting single is ear-worm pop with complex, internal experiences permeating its booze-laden air.

The thrill of "The Birthday Song" is in how The Habits put forth a defensive exterior while undermining seemingly petty phrases ("tonight's my birthday party, you're not invited") with rawer details. "I don't want you to know I'd drop everything if you say so," vocalist Wolf Bradley admits. Charting the course of a birthday party gone sour from memories of the past, the duo give the celebratory narrative a distinctly internal experience. Many of the single's sharpest lyrics read like texts he never sent ("I've got your number saved as: don't you fucking call her"). In the dreamy haze of the bridge, there's undeniable clarity. "Is it me that's here for what we used to be—not reality?" But then the Uber pulls up to his ex's house, pushing reflection to the wayside.

Wolf Bradley and Andrew Macatrao met as teenagers, eventually becoming friends through music. With Wolf playing guitar and Macatrao playing drums, the two bonded over jam sessions and growing as musicians. In 2017, the duo would release their first single, "Feeling It." After the pandemic hit in 2020, they decided to release their debut EP, What's The Worst That Can Happen? The Habits made a name for themselves through their unique brand of upbeat, catchy pop. Since the release of their debut EP, they've been on an upward trajectory—reaching wider audiences through their infectious singles and new collaborations. "The Birthday Song" released alongside a retro, diner themed music video, as well as their sophomore EP, I Think I'm Fine But I Don't Know.

Written By Andy Mockbee

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