All the way back in May a band who have long held the standard for arty punk prog intensity released their first album of the 20th Century.
At The Drive In were occupying a hallowed space where they were the hot new thing at the end of the last century. They splintered their art into other projects including the massively artier and more commercially successful The Mars Volta. Then they (and specifically their Hardcore Art Rock masterpiece Relationship Of Command) became legends.
Returning to the live arena after a decade long hiatus did not diminish their stock as an intangible ‘thing’ of insider cool. Beyond criticism you either got ATDI or you were a filthy casual. So many disciples flocked to their 2012 live reunion shows. And bollocked on about how life changing it was online.
Releasing a credible post reunion album? That’s a bit trickier. Do you stick to the formula and risk being called pastiche? Do you go off in a new direction and get called sellouts? This isn’t an issue when your music sounds like a Sonic Youth penned opera about Berlin era David Bowie having a nervous breakdown in Iggy Pop’s bed.
I could have chosen several tracks from in•ter a•li•a (I mean look at that album title, ffs) to represent the bonkers mix of melody and schizoid clatter and squealing to demonstrate how ruddy brilliant it all sounds. I could have gone for Holtzclaw with it’s hollering of ‘Put the snake back, put the snake back in the bag’ or Pendulum in a Peasant Dress with it’s barely intelligible title and totally hummable melody. I could have made a case for the jagged single Governed By Contagion or the super catchy Call Broken Arrow but I’m throwing down a cut right from the middle of the album called Incurably Innocent.
It’s got a drum track that defies logic and a drilling type of riff that pummel away before Bixler starts his yelping bobbins like:
“Pray that your family never forgets the arousal from a corpse that fuels your taste”
IF that’s not got you sweating behind the eyes a little he’ll keep twisting the English language around that pokey verbal delivery while the band continue to fuck up your kitchen.
“He found solace in the act of infection” – Righto!
“A blank tape that couldn’t remember but you can never erase the hurt out in the dial toned distance someone heard” – Tell me about it, huh?
“He keeps a hiding your photograph of the moment that you needed to emasculate his photograph” – Sing along if you know the words