A Place To Bury Strangers - Exploding Head
Although once described as New York’s loudest band A Place To Bury Strangers sound as English as fish and chips. Their shoegazing and The Jesus & Mary Chain influences are worn proudly on their sleeve, so it’s no surprise that album number two arrives courtesy of the Mute label.
Their self-titled debut was a creepy, wraithlike affair that sounded like the recordings of a band in the basement next door to a necromancer. Although it was essentially a collection of demo recordings collected together into a terrifying package, it still made sure all the kids were in bed before dark. With Exploding Head the band have moved in with his Evilness. Sounds are no longer translucent or ghostly, they are brash and in-your-face. Fortunately all this has happened without the loss of their sinister edge that attracted all the ghouls in the first place.
A Place To Bury Strangers have a fundamental understanding of elegance and beauty, it’s just that they choose to paint these decadent scenes with a barbed wire brush upon a canvas of sandpaper. Distortion is pushed to its absolute limit where it transcends into a vortex of glorious static, but there is enough subtle interplay between the light and dark to make the necessary impact when they decide to kick the windows in.
There is plenty of variety on offer: ‘Dead Beat’ opens with a swish surf guitar run that is within seconds propelled into the wall by a vari-speed electric drill of noise. It pushes the levels into the realm of insanity, twisting and gyrating into shifting shapes of racket, but never losing its harmonious heart. ‘Smile When You Smile’ contains fuzz-heavy guitars that actually sound like guitars rather than a stringed-instrument-of-mass-destruction! It makes a welcome contrast to its ear-rupturing cousins. It also allows Oliver’s restrained vocals to sparkle across this seldom calm ocean.
The quality of material is consistently high throughout the album. They’ve taken all the things that worked on their debut and polished them up - only to fearlessly hurl them into the acid vat. Come stare at the wreckage.