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  -  Airborne Toxic Event, The - All at Once (http://www.absolutepunk.net/showthread.php?t=2271802)

Jeremy Aaron 04/27/11 08:54 PM

Airborne Toxic Event, The - All at Once
 
The Airborne Toxic EventAll at Once
Record Label: Island
Release Date: April 26, 2011

I must admit to having something of a soft spot for The Airborne Toxic Event. It all started with “Sometime Around Midnight”, a tune that surprisingly shot into the top five at alternative radio. While at once laughable on the surface due to its openly confessional (and pathetic) protagonist, it seemed to resonate with a wide audience, which I’m pretty sure is because many of us have little difficulty remembering a time when we were just that fucking pathetic, and because rarely does a slice-of-life song capture a moment quite so vividly (suck it, “Mr. Brightside”!). And as it turned out, the band’s self-titled album was full of anthems for the sad, plastered bastard. Luckily for those not into all the somberness, their sonic milieu is decidedly more universal: lively guitar-pop. More specifically, lively guitar-pop that eludes easy comparison, as there are moments on the debut that are evocative of Titus Andronicus as well as those that recall The Smiths.

The L.A.-based band are back with a new sophomore release, which seems to document them still trying to be everything to everyone, and this time out, it doesn’t seem to work out quite as favorably. It’s not that All at Once isn’t a likable record; it just seems rather scattershot, and none of it captures the hard-hitting intensity of their debut’s best cuts. There are certainly tracks that emerge from the same emotional place. On the title track, frontman Mikel Jollett sings of being “left weary and scarred from the nights spent feeling incomplete,” while on “Half of Something Else,” he laments “years spent alone searching for something to make you whole.” And on the apty named “Numb”, Jollett is once again his old soused self (“if I drink tonight, I’ll get you off my mind”). But even these come off sounding a little limp and can’t quite portray the crushing heartbreak as well as we know this band can. Elsewhere, The Airborne Toxic Event exercise their chameleonic skills trying their hand at raucous Gaslight Anthem-style nostalgia (“It Doesn’t Mean a Thing”), synth-infused Social Distortion-esque political commentary (“Welcome to Your Wedding Day”) and plain-old jangly Cure worship (“Strange Girl”, which even name-drops Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me and makes references to smeared eyeliner). Unfortunately, none of it is particularly distinctive or memorable.

All at Once isn’t without its charms, though, as the band prove they still know how to craft radio-ready jingles, turning in the single “Changing”, which like the self-titled’s “Does This Mean You’re Moving On”, adds some uptempo flair and an addictive guitar line to bring some spice to a song with otherwise less-than-chipper lyrics. Unfortunately, it’s the odd duck on an album that gets bogged down in its own seriousness. The Airborne Toxic Event was a big-sounding grand gesture of an album, and not surprisingly, the band—now wielding a major label deal—were aiming even bigger this time around. I’ve never been one to begrudge or belittle a band for shooting for the stars. I also can’t help but be disappointed when they don’t quite hit their mark.

RIYLLow vs. Diamond’s Low vs. Diamond; The Killers’ Sam’s Town; Young the Giant’s Young the Giant


Track Listing1. All at Once (5:16)
2. Numb (4:05)
3. Changing (3:20)
4. All for a Woman (3:45)
5. It Doesn’t Mean a Thing (2:07)
6. The Kids Are Ready to Die (4:11)
7. Welcome to Your Wedding Day (3:42)
8. Half of Something Else (4:39)
9. Strange Girl (3:24)
10. All I Ever Wanted (4:18)
11. The Graveyard Near the House (4:55)


Preview/Buy the album at Amazon MP3.

Jeremy Aaron 04/27/11 08:55 PM

I expected to really love this album, but I only kinda like it. Wah wah.

trojanick 04/27/11 10:22 PM

Once I heard "Changing", I had high expectations for this record, but from what I've listened to it hasn't lived up to them (or that song, which is just a killer single).

Interesting band though, they were on Mark Hoppus' show a few weeks ago and the lead singer is a former fiction writer and just seemed really intelligent.

drzafs 04/28/11 02:06 AM

I'll still check this out, I liked a good amount of the last album.

FifteenFleeting 04/28/11 06:28 AM

Off Topic:

looking at your RIYL - whatever happened to Low Vs Diamond?

spleen 04/28/11 07:04 AM

It's not as amazing as their s/t but overall, it's a good album. I was just a little disappointed.

GoWaitInTheCar 04/28/11 07:22 AM

Generally speaking, I'm disappointed with this record. I think All I Ever Wanted could possibly be my song of the year so far but with that said, I'm not super into many others. It's going to get plays regardless of the situation but it certainly hasn't instantly hit me like their Self Titled did.

dash64 04/28/11 08:45 AM

Great record. Starts off strong, but doesn't seem to end that way. Maybe it's just me

AC91 04/28/11 09:28 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by trojanick (Post 88732741)
Interesting band though, they were on Mark Hoppus' show a few weeks ago and the lead singer is a former fiction writer and just seemed really intelligent.


Apparently the story behind the first album is that he was going to make it into a novel, but decided it sounded better to music so wrote it for the CD instead.

As for this album, I really enjoyed it. I didn't expect it to be that great, but it was better than I had assumed. It just has a good sound going throughout. There is obviously no Sometime Around Midnight type hit, but as a whole I think I might be enjoying it more than their first.

Jeff_Ryan 04/28/11 09:30 AM

I'm totally indifferent to this band but I hope the Pitchfork review is hilarious

fsmith84 04/28/11 09:51 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by dash64 (Post 88746772)
Great record. Starts off strong, but doesn't seem to end that way. Maybe it's just me

I don't think the best tracks are at the end (it's all downhill for me after "Welcome To Your Wedding"), but "The Graveyard Near the House" is probably one of the better songs on the album. Could just be me.

BornUnderPunches 04/28/11 12:56 PM

Saw this band on some late-night show the other day and it reminded me of Arcade Fire if they were to just go "fuck it. We don't care anymore."

dash64 04/28/11 04:35 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by fsmith84 (Post 88748902)
I don't think the best tracks are at the end (it's all downhill for me after "Welcome To Your Wedding"), but "The Graveyard Near the House" is probably one of the better songs on the album. Could just be me.

I fully agree that it's a good closer. I just wish a majority of the tracks had the same feel as the first three.

zman444 04/28/11 05:46 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Debut_Fin (Post 88748061)
I'm totally indifferent to this band but I hope the Pitchfork review is hilarious


Can't wait for that.

fna4 04/28/11 08:20 PM

If this band skipped some of the pretension they could be a pretty damn good rock band.