A Place To Bury Strangers – Transfixiation
The noise, the noise, the noise! For more than a decade now, these New Yorkers have been dishing out a steady supply of loud and rambunctious rock music. But you already knew that, or you should, as they’ve become somewhat of a staple band when it comes to experimental post-punk revival noise rock. Transfixiation is far from short on the loud and punch-you-in-the-face rock and roll, but does it push A Place To Bury Strangers past where they’ve already been?
They open up with simmering “Supermaster,” which has the band’s dark post-punk grit toned down to a pop level, giving it a newfound accessibility that was missing before. This song plays with the concept of bursting forth into the explosive rock that we know the band to be capable of, but instead, they stay treading water just below of the surface. Oliver Ackermann’s vocals stay low in the mix, and the whole song crawls along forebodingly, building up the suspense as squalls of electric guitar slice through the mix. Alluringly, this song piques your interest and sucks you in before APTBS ever really launch in.
But not to worry, “Straight,” the second track up has the band taking this newfound pop accessibility to a different level. This song is a great middle ground for the band; neither too hot nor too dull in terms of gritty noise rock or a watered down version of their original sound. Instead, it takes the band to a different level, combining the grit with the streamlined to make for quite an enjoyable track. There are other tracks on Transfixiation that fit this mold in the best way, like late burners “We’ve Come So Far,” or “Fill The Void.” Both of these songs combine a newfound pop sensibility to the mix while maintaining the band’s core sound, and open up the band to a new hybridity we had scarcely seen before. Other times, you get the band holding on to their loud roots unabashedly. Take songs like “Love High” or “Deeper,” in which the grungey elements are in full force.
So, the answer to the question I posed at the beginning of this review is both a yes and a no. There are some tracks on Transfixiation that clearly stick out and sail above the classic noise they’ve come to be infamous for. However, part of the album feels so steeped in feedback and coated in grit that you’ve already gotten to know; a half step in a different direction rather than a full step. It’s up to you to decide if that’s a good or a bad thing.