Connoisseurs of cacophony, A Place to Bury Strangers are back with a befittingly excellent and unsurprisingly loud EP, Onwards To the Wall; a record which sees the band continue their foray into industrial noise rock whilst retaining a sensibility that is unashamedly rooted in pop. Whilst the influences of Bauhaus, Joy Division and The Jesus and Mary Chain are still plain, both in their noisiness and pop familiarity, this effort incorporates a wider and more refreshing range of style, dynamics and influences.
The opener, ‘I Lost You’, announces the trio’s return with all the subtly of a particularly angry Glaswegian headbutt; screeching guitars and crashing drums, a master class in menacing, gothic noise. Nothing new there then, and the majority of the effort is similarly typical of their normal, grandma-bothering output; you’d be wrong to think that it sounds even remotely stale, even after two albums of ear piercing, formulaic noise-mongering.
The real standout, though, is the titular track, a paranoid and intense duet which jitters along with relentless and driven pace and features little of the wall of feedback generally present in their records. The reverb soaked guitars recall West Coast surf rock and the joint male/female vocal duties are a refreshing change from the A Place to Bury Strangers that I am used to; this track is truly a marvel.
In the same way as such titans as the aforementioned Jesus and Mary Chain, the band are still able to write proper verse, chorus, verse, chorus pop tunes; and they do so with prowess and competency before the track is referred the song to the department of dread, feedback and noise; some sort of operational wing which I imagine they must have. Despite this rather formulaic approach to their songs, A Place to Bury Strangers still have the power to frighten and move audiences and this effort is no exception. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
Released on February 6th 2012 by Dead Oceans