Posts Tagged ‘The Jesus and Mary Chan’

Dedstrange Records – 4th February 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

A Place To Bury Strangers have been pigeonholed variously in the brackets of noise-rock, shoegaze, indie, space-rock, and psychedelic rock. All of these are fair and accurate, but fail to represent the band’s expansions of these genres, and the fact that for all the noise, there is nuance. Listening to their catalogue of ear-bleeding sonic squalls reveals far more depth and range than this reductive characterisation implies.

The last few albums have tracked quite a journey, and See Through You resumes the trajectory of Worship and Transfixiation, whereby the production became evermore wayward and unconventional ahead of the rather safer-sounding pop-orientated Pinned (these things are relative, and it was hardly R1 mainstream pop). With each release, they’ve stepped further and further away from the accepted conventions of production and mixing, not only going evermore lo-fi, but also shunning by stages the conventions of balance, of tone. The vocals are way down, the drums are way up, and the EQ is utterly fucked as everything wallows in a murky midrange. It’s not an easy listen, and the song structures are far from obvious or clear either

So while recent single release ‘I’m Hurt’ leans heavily on The Jesus And Mary Chain’s ‘The Living End’ (and it’s by no means the first time they’ve taken cues from JAMC), the reverb echoes into a cavern of murk, as if a mudslide has slipped into said cavern. The chaotic crescendo that explodes by way of a finale still splinters the eardrums, but it’s not in the kind of blistering wall of treble that defined their sound up to Worship.

This evolution was necessary: they’d taken the limits of blistering psychedelic shoegaze wall of noise to – and beyond – its limits, with Worship standing as something of an apogee. But this was the album that also saw them recognise their limits while pushing beyond them. They have returned to more overtly structured songs for this outing in comparison to Transfixiation, while testing boundaries once more after the comparative retreat of Pinned. In short, it’s A Place to Bury Strangers at their best. That’s to say, it’s a squalling, blistering racket and it hurts, and there’s a fait bit going on, and beneath the crazed noise, there are some tunes. In fact, there are a fair few tunes, and some good ones at that.

The first track, ‘Nice of You to be There for Me’ feels like sarcasm and the guitars sound like melting cheese, the sonic equivalent of Dali’s clocks, a warping, dripping mess. And fucking yes. It’s as exhilarating as it is fucked up. ‘So Low’ does return to the spiralling explosive bass-driven racket of Worship and Transfixiation, but then things start to get really fucked up on ‘Dragged into a Hole’ as the frenetic disco beats are all but buries beneath a driving wall of obliterative bass and screaming guitar feedback. The distorted vocals only add to the head-smashing experience.

‘I Disappear (When You’re Near)’ is another bass-driven doomer, the pairing of a metronomic mechanised drum beat and throbbing bass that’s booming, grainy, distorted, and swathed in reverb is powerful. The guitars merely add texture, screams of feedback occasionally breaking through, while the vocals float in the swamp of noise. If It’s not already apparent, this is a noisy album. ‘My Head is Bleeding’ is kinda subdued, kinda electro, kinda pop, but in a Suicide sort pf way, and when the guitars explode in a fizzy mess, it’s an absolute rush, and everything that’s good about APTBS.

Closer ‘Love Reaches Out’ is essentially ‘Everything’s Gone Green’ merged with ‘Ceremony’: it’s the closest they get to commercial pop on this crazy roller-coaster of post-punk noise – and there is certainly a lot of noise.

So what to make of See Through You overall? It’s a solid album and quite daring, on many levels. When a band of this statute releases an album half their fans probably won’t like, you have to give respect to their prioritisation of their artistic vision.

AA

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