A Decent Debut With Room to Grow
Essick’s new album Atrium Atrium is an uneven mixed bag of tunes. While their particular take on neo-psychedelic dance rock is technically adept with roaring guitars and shimmering synthesizers in abundance, the listener gets the feeling that some of the tracks were included as fillers. The down tempo tracks are well made but uninteresting.
“Brighter Lights” starts out with minimal instrumentation and too much echo on the vocals before transitioning to a half time jazzy section that suffers from too much happening at one time, leading to a blurry, unfocused mess. “Indica” plays games with the meter that leaves the track feel disjointed and stumbly.
But Essick really shines in their up tempo songs.
From the intro, “Dreez” almost feels like a progressive house take on a Chromeo track. Quick staccato guitar work paired with disco drums serve as a strong central thread that ties together myriad little surprises hidden in the peripheries of the mix. Swelling and churning, a highly engrossing track.
“Drop of Light,” the shortest track on the record, is a highly atmospheric instrumental interlude with early Funkadelic flourishes on the tail end.
“Ghost Towns” has an infectious mix of manic drums and intertwining hypnotic guitar lines, tinged with flavors of The Who’s “Eminence Front,” backed with a simple yet propulsive bass line. Once they emerge from the intro, the band takes flight into a dance rock flurry. This is pure peak hour music festival fuel with all the breaks in all the right places, building up the energy, then dialing it back again in preparation for the big pay off. You can almost feel space left in the song for mind bending light show visuals.
“The Bliss” is another stand-out banger of a track. A heavier, guitar driven piece with a complicated math rock structure, almost dives into breaks territory. Floating vocals drenched in reverb make this song sound incredibly expansive.
While Essick are technically adept musically, this record feels like they called the album finished once there were enough songs to fill an arbitrary length. It would have made a stronger impression as an EP that distilled their hottest work into a condensed package. That said, there is enough gold on this record to make it worth the listen and make you want to hear more from them in the future.