Success stories like A Place to Bury Strangers aren’t as common now as they were during the mid-’00s. Thanks to a short lived explosion of blogs, more under-the-radar acts began to get noticed, some for better and some for worse (not naming names, but a lot of bands were still not quite graduated from the sounds-pretty-good-in-an-actual-garage phase). But it was an interesting move away from the mostly mainstream coverage of music from the early part of the decade, in which The Strokes were about as underground as coverage got. (Which is not at all.)
A Place to Bury Strangers’ first album came out on Killer Pimp, a DIY label essentially, and kind of blew up after getting coverage on Pitchfork and blogs, and within a couple years they ended up on Mute, the label that released albums by the likes of Depeche Mode, Erasure, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds and so on. Not bad. Not bad at all.
And with good reason: APTBS’s debut album is one of the best noise-rock/shoegaze albums of the 21st century. Catchy, tuneful songs with an inhuman amount of noise and effects, thanks in large part to Death by Audio, frontman Oliver Ackermann’s boutique pedal-building business and former DIY space (like everything in New York, it’s been gentrified out of existence because of condos or something).
The first time I heard this album it sort of blew my mind. It was everything I loved about My Bloody Valentine, Big Black, early The Cure and The Jesus and Mary Chain in one exploding ball of shrapnel. “To Fix the Gash In Your Head” and “I Know I’ll See You Again” are dark and menacing and hit all the right notes. I spun ’em a few times when I was doing the goth DJ thing, and I don’t know if anyone cared, but I enjoyed it. The band also puts on one hell of a live show; we caught them in Austin at SXSW back in 2008, and nothing came close.
All of the band’s records since have been solid, though nothing quite hit that “holy shit!” level like this one. Few things do.
Sound Quality: Good