A PLACE TO BURY STRANGERS
Pinned (Secretly Canadian/Inertia)
While yet to see New York’s A Place To Bury Strangers play live I am pretty sure they are going to be a notch or two above super loud, bass and drums rumbling through my innards, guitars pinning me to the back wall (where I’ll be eyeing the door for possible escape), droll voices desultorily fighting their way through, and leaving me a kind of wet dishrag on the floor by the end.
Or at least I sincerely hope they are.
APTBS has long been ostensibly a kind of shoegaze band – overdriven guitars, punched out bass, rolling and roiling drums, and yes, volume – tweaked to a shade of dark metal. To this they’ve added a blend of male and female vocals now with new drummer Lia Simone Bruswell the ideal deadpan singing flipside to guitarist Oliver Ackerman. Peak shoegaze?
Thankfully for those of us who find shoegazing eventually dull, there’s more, there’s darker and there’s (grimly) dancier to them than that. On their fifth album, around the played low/sounding high, resonant and practically lead instrument of Dion Lunadon’s bass, the trio plough a darker, vibrating/vibrant melange of drone rock and post-punk.
It’s music which works as a kind of giant railway, linking the likes of Manchester (Joy Division) and Melbourne (Sand Pebbles), San Francisco (Black Rebel Motorcyle Club) and Glasgow (Sons And Daughters), via East Kilbride (Jesus And Mary Chain), to the downtown noise fields of pre-Guiliani New York (Sonic Youth).
The album opens with the scene-setting Never Coming Back whose leering bass is almost – but only almost - swamped by the rising tide of displaced and finally distorted guitars, and the affected disaffection of the voices. It shifts only slightly through its five minutes and suggests Pinned will work on a thrilling but maybe ultimately destructive relentlessness.
Certainly, There’s Only One Of Us, where a bagpipe-like guitar line and echoing keyboard chime offer the little bit of light allowed in, the pummelling roll of Attitude, and the ambient brawl of Was It Electric, inside which delicate six strings, ala Maurice Deebank, pick away at the wall of sound, fit that bill.
However, the alterna-disco of Execution (dancing in trenchcoats to horror movie soundtracks) and Frustrated Operator (leather pants, bleached blonde hair and a heroin habit), the splatter punk metallic pogo of Look Me In The Eye and Too Tough To Kill, and the typewriter rhythm tied to smash and grab fuzztones of I Know I’ve Done Bad Things are some of the substitute routes that excite.
There’s also the open road pulse of Situations Changes, which keeps its menace low but always on the edge of your vision (think a night time/industrial east version of Ventura Highway in the sun soft rock), and the almost-ballad Was It Electric for the spectral romantics.
That’s why, although Keep Moving On closes the album with metronomic order married to a two chords-and-forsooth wash of sound that might confirm initial impressions, there’s been plenty of chances already to flip open that dank trenchcoat and live a little.