Monday, November 02, 2009
On this, their second release, APTBS sound just as ferocious and possessed as on their mightily impressive debut. An achievement all the more impressive for sounding as if no psychotropic drugs were involved in its creation; more like Jason Spaceman swapped smack for sleep deprivation and copious quantities of caffeine. Exploding Head has nothing to do with Scanners, unfortunately, but does have a lot to do with excessive violence, abrasive sounds and early My Bloody Valentine, before Alan Moulder got his velvet gloves to them. At times, the album could even be a lost MBV LP, until Oliver Ackermann’s detached New York tenor drifts in and begin its incoherent mumbling. Hardly breaking new ground, colossal opener It Is Nothing (literally a sonically a rip-off of MBV’s Isn’t Anything) and the devastatingly massive Ego Death and Deadbeat are still essential examples of the orchestrated racket APTBS are renown for. This is not white hot noise that you can fall asleep to with the volume down, nor is it a showcase for Ackermann’s pedal collection, though I’m sure more than a few pedals from his Death By Audio effects company will be shifted on the back of this release.
Drummer Jay Space is given a chance to break out from aping the electronic drums that grounded most of the debut and sounds thrilled for the opportunity. Still shimmering in the neon of the 80s there is a sense of romance about the band, bringing the recent history of New York to the fore, when it was still a relatively dangerous place. Sounding, as most decent American guitar bands do, heavily influenced by British bands, Exploding Head sees a more song-oriented coherence rather than the initially thrilling if samey distortion-driven debut. Nothing here reaches the heights of To Fix The Gash In Your Head from that album, but we see them further entrenching themselves with bigger sounds, biting melodies and more dynamics, aspects not likely to disappoint fans. Smile When You Smile may though, with its pop sheen and foregrounded lyrics, the most ‘listenable’ song they’ve released thus far. In spite of this, there are few surprises. If you want distortion-driven songs that sound best loud then you’ll love this; it’s what they set out to do - harmonies and brutal force are taken to their logical conclusion. That they’re not interested in anything else is, of course, totally fine.