At first blush, it would seem that Worship, the new full-length record by A Place to Bury Strangers, is the same as
it ever was: noisy guitars, shagged-out pop melodies, a subtle air of menace.
All those things certainly persevere, but the NYC band’s dread factor has raised
a notch or two. Leader Oliver Ackerman digs deep into his penchant for aloof
delivery, as he weaves more ominous drones and cold tones into the amplifier
abuse – more Joy Division than Sonic Youth, in other words. There’s a steely,
seething air to “Revenge,” “Mind Control” and the aptly
named “Fear” that makes the tracks as much threats as anthems. There’s still
plenty of noisemongering going on, mind you, but the gothic atmosphere gives
the tunes an uglier – and, strangely enough, more potent – appeal.
For balance the band indulges more fully in its pop
instincts – “Slide,” “And I’m Up” and “Dissolved” wouldn’t be out of place on
one of the Cure’s more daring LPs. More conservative fans shouldn’t worry,
though – there are plenty of traditional APtBS tracks present, including the
racing “Leaving Tomorrow,” the anthemic “Alone” and the explosive title track. A
Place to Bury Strangers hadn’t yet reached the point where it needed
reinvention, but giving its sound a few well-considered tweaks pushes its
creative momentum forward even faster.
“Revenge,” “Fear” MICHAEL TOLAND