3.5 stars - a solid album, but not particularly amazing.
May 27, 2009
Airborne Toxic Event's self-titled debut is not an amazing album, but it's a good album. It's notoriously scathing Pitchfork review might have you believe that it's the worst album ever made, but that review has a lot more to do with posturing on the part of the reviewer than an actual critique of the music. The only thing I can say is that Pitchfork has reached a new level of pretension and I wouldn't let it dissuade you from giving ATE a chance.
Yes, this band is not original or unique. They fit squarely into the Indie Rock mold, but they do it so well that it's not a big problem for me if they don't redefine the style. I think it's perfectly fine to work within a well-defined style, so long as the music is good.
The lyrics are pretty generic, but Mikel Jollett has a good voice that works well with the sound of the band. When I feel like I've heard just about as many soft, wispy male vocals as I can stand, ATE sounds refreshing with a slightly harder, more rocking edge. For example, the lyrics to "Sometime Around Midnight" are just really obvious; however, I recommend not even listening to them. The song is very nice if you just take in the music and don't worry about the lyrics. It creates a wonderful mood and has a nice dramatic contour.
ATE shows some potential. If you're a big fan of this style of music, it may be worth a listen. I don't listen to a huge amount of music in this style, so if you're like me, there are probably better albums available. However, the album is brief, doesn't overstay its welcome, and it's a nice diversion from some of the bigger-name indie acts.
... but just couldn't bring myself to do it. ABTE isn't a bad group ... they are actually rather talented musicians. I love the guitar work of Boxcars and the classic rock treatment of Circle of Life, but the album as a whole just didn't grab me. I gave it a number of repeat listens over the span of a month, but it still hasn't clicked for me. To contrast, Porcupine Tree's latest release, The Incident had me hooked from the 2nd listen and I can play it on repeat without wanting to pop-in a different … more
The first word that came to mind when I started listening to this CD was "hyper", but that's not a bad thing. There was something about this CD that reminded me of the early 90s, and other reviewers have it right on when they said it's got a flavor that is very Cure, or perhaps The Smiths. It's hard to pinpoint just where their influences are. This is the kind of CD that you pop into the CD player on a road trip and keep everyone happy. Your indie rock friends won't be impressed by the great find … more
"Occasionally you get lucky and stumble across a band at the very moment they ignite the engines and blast off into the heavens. The Airborne Toxic Event just gets louder and richer until the music practically bursts at the seams and spills its steaming guts across the stage."