Album Reviews

A Place To Bury Strangers – See Through You

(Dedstrange) UK release date: 4 February 2022

A Place To Bury Strangers - See Through You You’re never quite sure what exactly to expect from New Yorkers A Place To Bury Strangers, other than a lot of noise. With a reputation built as a ‘post-punk-noise-rock’ band, you do of course have something of an idea, but levels of sonic experimentation vary considerably throughout their 20 plus years.

For the sixth studio album See Through You, experimentation is perhaps unexpectedly reined in slightly more than usual; as we are seeing over and over again though, the main driver for new albums currently emerging – very much expectedly – is the P word, and this is no different. Through enforced isolation thanks to the (whisper it quietly, pandemic), Oliver Ackermann ended up recording a multitude of tracks which were inevitably inspired by his catching of the virus in its early days, a time that saw his sleep pattern disturbed considerably, hence many ideas were formed in the early, sleep-deprived hours of the morning.

As such, there’s a gloomy cloud hanging over the collection that at times can surpass his previous glumness. I’m Hurt, for example, is as bleak as death, its dull depths reaching levels of misery that take some beating as he captures the state of his native New York during a period of despair that we all felt, wherever we were. The scritchy-scratchy scrawl of Let’s See Each Other also taps into similar realms with its monotonous chorus doing little to elevate anyone’s emotions.

Largely, though, the gloom is held in check – musically, at least – thanks to up tempo, urgent beats. Raucous opener Nice Of You To Be There For Me clangs its way forward into a beautifully warped screech, and whether or not its title screams sarcasm is up for debate, as the lyrics – if they can be deciphered from the distorted onslaught at all – could frankly mean anything. Other tracks defined by their driving beat include Dragged In A Hole (a gloriously, sonic-bending three-chord structured effort that Ripley Johnson has made a career out of with Moon Duo and Wooden Shjips, albeit with less noise), Broken (where an addictive hook battles against lyrics of “I’m depressed”) and the ear bleeding screech of Hold On Tight. Ringing Bells is also likely to warrant a re-naming by listeners of ‘ringing-ears’, but during this propulsive beat lies a distinctly impressive melody which can be picked out with less effort than usual.

The blistering noise of So Low might be too full-on for some while the keen eared may notice similarities to Blondie’s One Way Or Another during My Head Is Bleeding – if you can get past the thunderous surface, of course. But where See Though You blows you away is, conversely, where there’s less noise. Closing the album with the one-two of clear standout I Don’t Know How You Do It, a track that blends a male/female vocal duet together perfectly is spine-tinglingly excellent and finally Love Reaches Out is also impressive, if unerringly close to a mash-up of New Order’s Ceremony and Love Vigilantes… so close you half-expect credits to be shared.

At times, See Through You is a painful listen, but that’s part of A Place To Bury Strangers’ attraction: never for the faint-hearted. With the addition of former member John Fedowitz (bass) along with Sandra Fedowitz (drums) from Ceremony East Coast, the line-up has evolved, and you can’t help but feel that See Through You is also an evolution – for all the right reasons. “Crazy-noise-rock” is at its core, but with some interesting curveballs peeking through the onslaught, perhaps the band are approaching their greatest adventure yet.

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