Gloriously, Unequivocally and Beautifully Loud
A Place to Bury Strangers began their eponymous debut with the thunderous “To Fix the Gash in Your Head,” a pulsating pseudo-lovechild of The Jesus and Mary Chain and Joy Division that set the tone for one of the best albums of 2007. Now they’re back with an extremely good, expectation-laden sophomore effort Exploding Head.While the cynicism and attention span of the blogosphere may turn on them, this band still has a lot going for it.
When a band like A Place to Bury Strangers becomes linked with influences so tightly woven in the fabric of indie rock, it can be an albatross around the neck. Yet APTBS transform the feedback-driven romanticism of the JAMC to something dark, creepy and downright loud. Exploding Head sees the band both look back to their debut as well as push forward in equal measure.
Even with the lyrics unintelligibly buried below layers of feedback, effects pedals and crunching guitar work, Oliver Ackermann still has an almost demonic vocal delivery. Even the “C-c-come on” precursor to the bridge of “Ego Death” is more similar to an enchanter summoning screeching banshees rather than its normal use in a bubblegum pop-song setting.
Sonics are the real story here: melodic, loud, spacious. “It is Nothing” opens the album with an amorphous that seems to expand when quiet and contract in a jarring manner when loud. “In Your Heart,” the title track and “Keep Slipping Away” are the most melody-driven cuts and, because of the consistency, never feel out of place. In an album packed with highlights, “Ego Death” is the centerpiece. A Place to Bury Strangers have never been louder, nor have they used guitar pyrotechnics better. Shifting from a power-chord riff to a low rumble and a crescendo that epitomizes the album title and still leaves the feeling that the band can go further shows that this trio are in clear control of their gifts and not afraid to use them.
While Exploding Head may have its doubters, it’s clear, more so than on their debut, that APTBS aren’t here by some coincidence. They’re here to stay.