Music Reviews
Onwards To The Wall

A Place To Bury Strangers Onwards To The Wall

(Dead Oceans/Mute) Rating - 5/10

A Place to Bury Strangers have an energy problem. Their eponymous debut record captured a neo-Shoegaze fury so intense, so undeniably incredible, that it was met with instant acclaim. The follow-up, Exploding Head, didn’t. The songwriting was just as good, the style was similar, but the energy was missing. I’m not a record producer or an engineer. I have little to no technical expertise in these matters, so it’s impossible for me to put my finger on exactly what the problem is. All I can say is that a key element is missing, and it’s making for some mediocre releases.

Again, the songwriting and ideas are just as strong as they ever have been during for the duration of Onwards to the Wall.  I saw them play a few of these songs live last year, and they were played with passion and sounded great. The partial failure to harness that energy on record is a sad plague indeed. The music is dialed from a ferocious attack to a loud whisper. It seems like a horribly misguided attempt at increased accessibility. Softening their sound hasn’t led to more fans, but to a blander, weaker and unsatisfying sound. It’s far more produced, with more vocal layers and dynamics, more evened out guitars and a far more separated mix.

It’s sad to hear solid ideas and more than decent song writing go to waste like it has on the last two APTBS releases. Songs like opener I Lost You are definitely up to par with other’s the band has produced, but the studio has removed its teeth and dismantled what could have been a pretty great song. It’s still noisy and loud, but it’s done without the passion of before. APTBS has been reduced to a glossed over shadow of their former selves.