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A Place To Bury Strangers: Worship
Shoegaze fans across the world can rejoice: New York noise rock trio, A Place to Bury Strangers, have dumped a new baby on us. Worship is their first album for their new label Dead Oceans, and their third full-length in their almost decade-long existence.
The band has gone through some line-up changes since their last effort, Exploding Head (2009). Bassist Jono MOFO already left the band in the spring of 2010, to be substituted by former The D4 beat creator Dion Lunadon, and drummer Jay Space has recently been replaced by new recruit Robi Gonzalez.
For any rock band, replacing the entire rhythm section would undoubtedly impact the overall sound of the group. But A Place to Bury Strangers' songs are generally so deeply drowned in a sea of guitar noise and wrapped in a wall of sound that it is near impossible to distinguish a difference. Gonzalez seems to thump his kit as aggressive, sharp and fast as his predecessor did, while Lunadon's rumblings on the bass guitar are a perfect match for main man Oliver Ackermann's eardrum-splitting explosions of guitar feedback.
Worship is basically a hybrid of A Place to Bury Stranger's two previous albums: it's as noisy and raw as their self-titled first album, mixed with a sprinkle of the Cure-like pop hooks that dominated their sophomore effort. Fortunately the band has also kept up the experience they gained in between their first and second album. It makes Worship a solid album, but not a very adventurous one.
The trio let their New Romantic-side shine through on ‘You Are The One’, throw in some punk rock riffs on 'Leaving Tomorrow' and go slightly post-rock on us in 'Dissolved'; but that's it for the musical surprises. Their main influences are still very audibly Jesus and the Mary Chain, Joy Division and My Bloody Valentine. Is that a bad thing? No, not necessarily. It will no doubt keep their old fans happy, but might not win them many new ones either.
Their latest effort might not be as mind-blowing as Exploding Head was when it came out, but as an all-round reliable shoegaze staple A Place To Bury Strangers are still worthy of your worship.
Album opener ‘San Angeles’ will get feet moving and booties shaking, but the rest of the album is decidedly more post-rock oriented. The influences of Pink Floyd only really make a grand appearance on psychedelic tune ‘Lunar Drift’, with its spooky synths and echoing bass line.
‘The Eliminator’ takes the listener back to the eighties again, as the repetitive electronic beat that is used sounds a lot like the 8-bit sounds that were the backdrop for many early eighties video games. Imagine the aforementioned desert wasteland turning 8-bit coloured.
The eighties also dominate in the strummed intro to ‘Martin Rev’, evoking memories of Survivor’s ‘Eye of the Tiger’. You’d almost think the guys of Maserati had wished they were making music a few decades ago.
Ever since the 2012 release of their double a-side single, ‘Flying To Berlin/Husbands’, Savages have occupied an interesting space in the musical spectrums. With a mixture of old school post-punk and noise rock, they appear to be the perfect cross-section of Siouxsie and the Banshees and Swans. Their frenetic, dark, and sinisterly beautiful style has been receiving rave reviews the world over from critics and fans alike and their latest EP Adore Life is more of the same.
This is an album about love, but one would hesitate to call any of the tracks traditional love songs. Instead of falling into classic song writing tropes about how amazing love is, Savages instead approach the subject matter from a much darker perspective. This is an album about the true power of love, nd how that isn’t always a good thing.
The opening track, ‘The Answer’, heaves with energy from the get go, telling the story of an almost obsessive infatuation, with frontwoman Jehnny Beth (real name Camille Berthomier) repeating the words “If you don't love me/You don't love anybody” throughout the song just to drive home the fact that love can be a dangerous force. The hectic instrumentation provides a binary opposition to Beth’s sweet tones and is the perfect start to the record.
That is not to say that Adore Life is unrelenting in its aggression. This album is a mixture of forceful distortion, British post-punk and torch songs, and nowhere is this more apparent than on the song ‘Adore’. It’s slow, it’s bassy, it’s reverby (is that even a word?) it’s dark, but above all, beautiful. Concluding with a lyrical coda accompanied by a slow crescendo, it sounds like something you would hear in a smoky Paris café at 3AM. Make no mistakes, this is an early contender for one of the best songs of 2016.
Even towards the end of the album, they manage to keep the energy up. The penultimate track, ‘T.I.W.YG’, is almost a sequel to ‘The Answer’ in terms of style and narrative. The instrumentation provides an organised cacophony to truly drive home the fact that, this is what you get when you mess with love.
For what is only a second album, Adore Life shows a surprising maturity from the London-based female foursome. The lyrics are emotive without being contrived, the instrumentation is varied without being schizophrenic and the style is classic without being clichéd. This is more neo-post punk as opposed to post-punk revival and thank god it is, because the last thing we need is another attempt to revive a past genre. Remember the comment about the band being perfect cross-section of Siouxsie and the Banshees and Swans? This album hits the nail on the head, being equal parts a love song to the past and an ode to the fuzzy future.