Noiseniks rejoice: if your inner goth was starting to twitch beneath the swathes of tie-dye-fi sounds pouring out of Psychamerica, A Place To Bury Strangers’ debut UK release comes on like the brown acid to MGMT’s sugarcube, the Altamont to Yeasayer’s Woodstock.
Dubbed “New York’s loudest band”, their debut UK shows this May were some of the most thrilling showcases of paranoia-seething guitar abuse these shores have seen since the heyday of their obvious heroes the Reid brothers. While much of the American nu-gaze school is starting to sound tired, APTBS lift themselves above the herd of Spacemen 3 worshippers by virtue of the rancorous ferocity of their sound – less dream pop than nightmare rock.
‘Missing You’ is a gothically moody Brooklyn street corner cousin to the Mary Chain’s ‘The Living End’ with snarling Stoogey guitars, dark and slick as crude oil. ‘I Know I’ll See You’ channels early Cure with a surly shoegaze shuffle and an irresistible descending guitar hook that grabs your hand and leads you into dark layers of murky noise to your certain doom.
Tracks such as the sleazily erotic ‘To Fix The Gash In Your Head’ (“I want to beat you in/I’ll make you feel my sorrow”) and ‘Get On’, meanwhile, draw more on ‘Automatic’-era Mary Chain and early Nine Inch Nails with their harder, drum-machine led feel. As befits a compilation of demos, though, it’s a mixed bag. ‘The Falling Sun’ drops the momentum to funeral-procession speed, its Joy Division-esque stylings slumping past atmospheric into dirgey. ‘Breathe’, though, is as drivingly seductive as Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and ‘Another Step Away’ pure fuzz-pop genius with a spine of rock-hard drumming; like all the best shoegaze bands, APTBS rarely get so lost in the fuzz that they can’t find the beat.
The only real fault is that guitar wizard Oliver Ackermann is hardly the most compelling vocalist; on weak link ‘Don’t Think Lover’ his deadpan tones are feeble. But then, you can hardly hear them under the shredding scree. The five new tracks added for the UK release, especially the Suicide throb of ‘Run Around’, suggest the real thrills are to come on their debut proper, but for now, this is an exciting enough introduction to a new force of darkness. Buy two, and give one to a hippy.