Sound — 8
Space-Rock/Noise-Pop trio A Place To Bury Strangers have been known as "the loudest band in New York", and their very first full-length record does a good job of living up to their title. Every track from the first to the last is bathed in walls of sonic mayhem recalling the feedback-laced compositions of My Bloody Valentine and The Jesus and Mary Chain. Unlike several noise outfits, A Place To Bury Strangers delivers their chaos in carefully calculated, accessible pop structures. Backed by an solid rhythm section, frontman Oliver Ackermann is free to unleash the full potential of his own Death by Audio effects without compromising the appeal of the songs. However, the presence of a single guitarist means that several of A Place To Bury Strangers' songs resemble each-other in their stripped-down linearity. This record isn't so much a concise album as a pell-mell collection of songs written during different time periods, and this is painfully apparent in the tremendous shift in style from one track to another. Expanding into a four-piece band could open new avenues of sonic experimentation to this group.
Lyrics — 6
It's hard to write about Oliver Ackermann's lyrical and vocal approach without mentionning The Jesus And Mary Chain. Ackermann's low, menacing deadpan tones are almost identical to those of JAMC frontman Jim Reid, as are his cathartic, angsty lyrics. The result is a very dark, brooding take on 80's shoegazing that makes them much less versatile than bands like Ride and Slowdive. A Place To Bury Strangers may be more innovative sonically than many modern musical groups, but their adherence to themes of pop-minded angst places them next to more mainstream acts such as Nine Inch Nails and Evanescence in terms of audience, and possibly even in terms of lifespan.
Overall Impression — 9
Sonically, A Place To Bury Strangers is most comparable to 80's noise-pop bands Spacemen 3, My Bloody Valentine, and The Jesus And Mary Chain, but what their music lacks is the versatility and freedom to experiment displayed by these artists. The leaps in sound between songs is often disconcerting. "The Falling Sun" stands out as the most innovative and transcendent track on the record, and sounds as if it were written several hundred years from now with it's organic, strain- like structure and hypnotic, monolithic beat. In contrast, tracks like "Another Step Away" and "Breathe" are simply pop songs with fuzzy guitar, and recall a at their tamest rather than the frantic mayhem that the band is hailed for. Most songs on the album fall between these two extemes; most are creative and unusual in sound, but none but "The Falling Sun" she'd thoroughly pop structures in favour of a more personal, abstract form. Considering this technically isn't even the band's true debut, it is an impressive start and demonstrates the potential that the band could achieve by widening their vision a litte.