A Place To Bury Strangers seem to ‘Worship’ pop music on their new album.
2012, Dead Oceans
6.0 / 10.0
A Place To Bury Strangers preceded their new album, Worship, with the EP, Onwards To The Wall, that was muscular in noise. Since that EP was released back in February, it stands to reason that their new album, Worship, follow the same noisy path, trampling down trees, telephone lines, and buildings with Godzilla-sized riffs. And that’s the case for many of the songs on Worship, but what’s puzzling is the many songs that opt away from audible destruction, a signature trait of A Place To Bury Strangers. The band seems to be choosing melody over mayhem, something that other noise bands like No Age and Japandroids have also done recently. Will longtime fans still Worship A Place To Bury Strangers after the change?
Of course they will. Oliver Ackermann may be bearing more of his soul on Worship to an almost ‘emo’ degree, but he also maintains his sinister creepiness from Onwards To The Wall. ”Not another second to live / And you hear my voice / And now it’s gone”, sings Ackermann on “Fear”, a mixture of ambient dream pop and guitar noise that works effectively at building anxiety behind Ackermann’s vocals. Ackermann seems quite close to a panic attack on several of Worship’s songs, and his brooding, nonchalant attitude is replaced with worry.
“Why Can’t I Cry Anymore” bolsters his pain to ear-piercing levels, mimicking the stabbing pain to his heart. On “You Are The One”, he laments, ”I wish I had the chance to do it all again”; then more pain heavy guitar chords fire off, sounding as if they’re stretching from a deep slumber. However, “You Are The One” begins by channeling Billy Idol before switching to familiar APTBS territory. Perhaps it’s the stronger focus on vocals that makes Worship sound so much poppier and accessible than past albums from the band.
If you take out the vocals from “Mind Control”, it comes across as a dingy Joy Division-esque jam, but when you factor in the song’s lyrics dealing with a powerful obsession, it could be considered a love song for goth kids. The biggest departure made by A Place To Bury Strangers is “Dissolved”, that would feel at home in the jangle pop stratosphere inhabited by Real Estate and Beach Fossils. “And I’m Up” is similar with a Strokes meets Crystal Stilts vibe going on. The band returns to its original shape in Worship’s final song, “Leaving Tomorrow”, that pulls out all the stops in one final blaze of destructive glory.
Worship is an interesting twist from APTBS based on their past releases and EP from earlier this year. A change seems to be happening with noise rock bands as they get older. It’s as if they’re discovering that they actually want to say something verbally than just give angsty hipsters a reason to headbang. Thankfully, there’s still plenty of headbanging material on Worship to keep old fans satisfied, but the real question is will there be next time?