A Place to Bury Strangers: Transfixiation (Dead Oceans, 2015)

A Place To Bury Strangers vuelven a sacar todo el arsenal de pedaleras de distorsión, de artilugios y de juguetes chirriantes para dar forma al que es su cuarto trabajo. Un álbum que no epata al igual que sus predecesores: han perdido ese efecto sorpresa de sus primeros discos y ciertamente, se pierden en un piélago de distorsión algo crepitante que no ofrece demasiadas insinuaciones para adentrarse en su música a aquel que no esté demasiado familiarizado en el género…

“It’s not a huge shift from 2012’s relatively streamlined Worship, which itself wasn’t a huge shift from its predecessor Exploding Head. APTBS’ progress has been incremental over the years, so Transfixiation derives much of its success from being compared to their 2007 breakthrough— those who have been following since A Place to Bury Strangers can recognize the band’s evolution and justify their own investment. Those who are coming intoTransfixiation blind might just hear a notable band boasting a currently rare commitment to an ’80s kind of noise-rock rather than the ’90s iterations of shoegaze, goth, or industrial that’s more prominent in 2015.
Then again, APTBS’ progress as a band only serves to expose the underlying one-dimensionality of their actual songwriting. This is a style of music rarely lauded for its lyrics in general, let alone its topical range—it’s probably too much to ask for a political A Place to Bury Strangers song or a tripartite prog epic, or a gooey love note just to shake things up. But for a band whose songs so frequently draw on the depths of despair, incapacitating depression, and occasional kink for inspiration, the grousing of Transfixiation feels perfunctory. However admirable “Filling the Void”, “I’m So Clean” and “Love High” are for their sonic formalism, the songs themselves are like fortune cookies filled with quotes from latter day Trent Reznor or the @sosadtoday Twitter feed.
Case in point, “Deeper”—a generous reading would frame it as a devastating parody. An accurate reading would frame it as the six-minute nadir of APTBS’ fourth album. The chorus goes, “Deeper, deeper, deeper still/ Deeper than the deepest well,” which isn’t the funniest part only because Ackermann adopts a Christian Bale-as-Batman baritone to taunt, “if you fuck with me, you’re gonna burn” right before it. Occasionally, APTBS traffic in a speedfreak roadhouse blues that recall a mondo distorted version of Suicide; conversely, “Deeper” is the first song ever to be conceivably inspired by Rollins Band’s legendary high comic cover of“Ghost Rider”. If The Crow: 2037 ends up getting a release, “Deeper” would do well to soundtrack the rain-soaked resurrection of whoever that year’s version of Edward Furlong happens to be.
But zone out from “Deeper” and, combined with its instrumental successor “Lower Zone”,Transfixiation is capable sludge-goth ambience. Regardless of its issues, it never distracts from intimating the same old points: Ackermann makes expensive guitar pedals and the band plays with a ferocity that will make theirs the only show you’ll want to see for the next month—and due to its ear-splitting volume, maybe the only show you’ll physically be able to hear for a month. So whenever the temptation to lend a closer ear to Transfixiation arises, you should know better by now” (Pitchfork)

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