A Place To Bury Strangers – Exploding Head A Place To Bury Strangers – Exploding Head

A Place To Bury Strangers - Exploding Head

A Place To Bury Strangers - Exploding Head

A Place To Bury Strangers make exactly the sort of music that people from older generations think that people from this generation listen to. At least, they do now, thanks to Exploding Head. The band’s 2007 self titled album, whilst now nearly universally regarded as a solid album of noisey post punk rattling was initially regarded as somewhat of an obscurity. Promises of canny songwriting and angsty lyrics were quickly drowned in seas of acute fuzz and feedback, but revealed hidden depths after each listen. Indie hipsters actually learned to appreciate the harshness, not just accept it as a necessary unpleasantry. Noise however is not a new thing, and in recent years bands like Animal Collective and Fuck Buttons have carved out their own niches and managed to cement their status as indie mainstays. For A Place To Bury Strangers to stray off course then, is an odd move.

Don’t get me wrong, Exploding Head still isn’t Sunday dinner music, but the emphasis here has been noticeably shifted towards song structure. Whilst on their self titled you felt like you had to work to reap the rewards, here gratification is instant, particularly so on opener “It Is Nothing”. Sound bites like, ‘Joy Division played through a massive loop of feedback’, are all well and good, but feel slightly exaggerative when the song structures are as tame as this. It’s still moody and 2am dark, but we’ve already seen what APTBS can do, so cuts like “Lost Feeling” and “Deadbeat” seem a bit yawnsome.

But Exploding Head is dark. As previously mentioned, this is firmly music for people who wear black clothing. The balance of accessibility and sinister is balanced well on “Ego Death”. Well….the balance tips slightly in favour of the latter. Fuzzy power chords and squealing pedals are matched with monotonous, ghostly vocals to create the soundtrack to a sweaty mosh pit perfectly. “Smile When You Smile” also manages to focus squarely on being a traditional rock song, providing a great verse/prechorus/chorus and still sounding very much APTBS. The cheery “Everything Always Goes Wrong” is probably the highlight of this record, showcasing both catchy, dark hooks and traditional song structure, all before that reverb laden guitar riff falls like a slow battleaxe.

“Exploding Head” encapsulates all the problems with this album. Its funky, fleetingly enjoyable, clichéd post punk. As I first mentioned, this is what old people think we listen to. On their debut, APTBS made music that spat in the face of such presumptions, managing not to get caught under the net of any one particular genre tag. On some of the weaker songs here though, APTBS have turned their craft into cliché. And, frustratingly, it’s still good. It’s a lot better than many current bands at the moment could manage, but fans of 2007’s self titled will already know that they can do so much more. Perhaps as the band’s major label debut, Exploding Head was always going to be slightly more presentable. It’s like a student flat compared to a country mansion. Both are livable, but which would you rather live in?

Actually, no. Which would be more fun?

Track List:
01. It Is Nothing
02. In Your Heart
03. Lost Feeling
04. Deadbeat
05. Keep Slipping Away
06. Ego Death
07. Smile When You Smile
08. Everything Always Goes Wrong
09. Exploding Head
10. I Live My Life to Stand in the Shadow of Your Heart

A Place To Bury Strangers - Exploding Head, reviewed by Lemon on 2009-10-22T11:36:46-07:00 rating 3.4 out of 5

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