If you disregard the distorted guitars, the spooky sound effects, and the unapologetically gothtarded imagery, not much separates the Birthday Massacre from honest-to-gosh bumblegum pop. Although generally typed as goth-industrial, they've always exuded a certain "Debbie Gibson sings the opening theme song from an anime cartoon about vampires" quality — which is way more awesome than being an actual industrial band. If they didn't look like a Jhonen Vasquez drawing, they might even have a completely different audience demographic. On their far more entertaining first two records, they didn't always seem sure whether they wanted to be a metal band, or a synth-pop band, or what. On Pins and Needles, it's as if they'd established a template for how a Birthday Massacre song should sound, but the forgettable results dribble off into a puddle of lukewarm, formulaic sludge. Not that the music video for "In the Dark" — an Alice in Wonderland–style yarn with quite a lot of blood — loses any of its bossness for promoting a blah record.