Kings of the effects pedal A Place To Bury Strangers have a new album out after a heavy couple of years touring and writing in Brooklyn. The band have taken an experimental step forward, but still pack a punch with noise-infused rocky smashers. Their love of Joy Division still shines through. On CD and vinyl.
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Bless this band for fucking around. A Place To Bury Strangers never went the conventional path with whatever it is we’re calling their music now -- it fits shoegaze sometimes, post-punk at others, but this band just want to tear shit up, abyss of feedback be damned. They open ‘Transfixiation’ like they’re going to pull back at any moment. “Supermaster”, the record’s chilling opener, drives forward with a groovy rhythm before stuttering around its choruses, as if it’s not quite ready to commit to the inevitable onslaught. Then “Straight” starts and the guitars start to rip through your nearest time vortex.
‘Transfixiation’ reminds me of another one of this years’ early post-punk contenders, joining Disappears’ ‘Irreal’ on its journey towards a nihilistic fallout of calibrated guitar fuzz and monotone euphoria. The difference is that ‘Transfixiation’ goes wherever it wants, recalling the exuberance of A Sunny Day In Glasgow where Disappears shoot for Swans. “Love High” bursts out of its cage with overwhelming assaults of percussion and guitars that sound like they’re whining with thrice the force of Kevin Shields’ -- imagine My Bloody Valentine, but they’re in Final Destination 3. Really, though, it’s how abruptly “Love High” transitions from “Straight” -- there’s no layover. It just happens. What comes next? The brightly melodic Cure-ripoff “What We Don’t See”. Keep up.
A Place To Bury Strangers are a band of many aesthetics and they change their mind after every meal. “What We Don’t See” may be one of the year’s sweetest songs yet -- a twee pop anthem hiding in the caustic wide open -- but it’s followed by the disturbing “Deeper”, a snarled, Liars-influenced cut with crashing drums I wouldn’t be surprised to be murdered by in a power electronics track -- that is, before they become positively industrial, echoing the rawness of Have a Nice Life on ‘Deathconsciousness’. The message is clear: don’t fuck with A Place To Bury Strangers. But also, they love you.
For a band four records deep into their career, ‘Transfixiation’ is an absolute joy of a record, taking on every experimental idea that comes into these noisy kids’ heads and letting the lucid dream fly. It doesn’t so much act as a full piece of music as it does a slapdash collection of different personalities; that’s made obvious once and for all from “Lower Zone”, a track that curls itself around a fun riff, throws in some distortion and then fades out before it becomes substantial. Sometimes noise is best served random.
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