A Place to Bury Strangers
The conundrum of the modern iteration of A Place to Bury Strangers is that they emerged at a time when they were readily contextualized within the current musical zeitgeist. Contemporaries like Cold Cave and Trust swirled around them with correspondingly bleak interpretations of existence. But 2018 is different; now there is seemingly far less taste for the New York trio’s Mitteleuropa lugubriousness. Still, as the opening notes of their latest, Pinned, hit the ear, exhilaration kicks in pretty quickly. It’s an homage to Joy Division’s “Transmission,” sure—but if you’re going to borrow, borrow well.
Naturally, frontman Oliver Ackermann announces the album’s not-unfamiliar philosophical intentions swiftly: “I get so high / When I get so low / And get so low / When I get so high.” The murky, aurally apocalyptic touchstones that follow are recognizable: “Execution,” with its galloping synth line and screeching noise blasts harkening Cabaret Voltaire; the haunting “Was it Electric,” with all the funereal beauty of early Clan of Xymox; and “There’s Only One of Us,” a chilling paradigm of relentless goth-metal. The thing is, there’s little doubt they genuinely mean every echo-drenched, wall-of-grinding-guitars second of these songs. And like their forbearers, APTBS possess an astonishing talent for the evocation of (mostly somber) moods and atmosphere.
Nothing here will really surprise you—but you can be certain most of it will at least leave you unsettled.