A Place to Bury Strangers : See Through You
When A Place to Bury Strangers formed over 20 years ago, most of the post-punk revivalists of today were still in their pop-punk phase. After an outstanding debut rife with feedback and heavy effects, the band not only defied the sophomore slump but created what is arguably their best work to date with 2009’s Exploding Head. Over the course of the next three albums they would shed some of the sonic intensity, bordering on noise rock, that colored the first two albums, increasingly creating work with a darker tension. Their sixth album See Through You finds them delving further into experimental and bleak sounds while drawing more influence from the earliest, rawest incarnations of post-punk.
Sometimes this presents itself in a cavernous catharsis on songs like “I’m Hurt,” wherein Oliver Ackermann’s coldly detached vocals echo through a filter of reverb. The droning scrape of guitar feels at times like a return to their earlier work, sometimes with more of a jammy garage rock feel. The amble of the jagged guitar riffs are not as loudly abrasive, but sound like they’d be a lot of fun to hear live. And anyone who’s seen them live knows that their recorded efforts never really prepare you for how they crank up the intensity in that setting.
With See Through You, A Place to Bury Strangers are even more song focused. “So Low“ serves as an example of where the band would have weaponized feedback before, but here they give the drums space in the mix to hold things into a groove. Which doesn’t mean they no longer harbor that classic APTBS sensory overload, as the blown-out fuzz of the bass and distorted mix of the vocals provides heft to “Dragged In a Hole,” creating something immensely heavy. The electronic elements that have crept into their work more recently sit tastefully in the mix, keeping the focus more on the dense pounding that a song like “Ringing Bells” delivers. There are some wonderful moods captured here as well, one of them being the beautiful despondence expressed on “I Disappear.” This feels more genuine and compelling than the new wave pep of “Anyone but You.” There is also a convincing moodiness in the subtle melodies that lurk in the shadows of “My Head is Bleeding.” John Fedowitz’s bass playing on this album often steals the show on See Through You, best heard on songs like “Hold On Tight,” which otherwise is one of the more straightforward songs on the album, balancing ’70s rock ‘n’ roll with the urgent cool of The Jesus and Mary Chain.
See Through You sits in good company with the rest of A Place to Bury Strangers’ legacy, never feeling as if they’ve lost a step since their dynamic debut. At times their excursions into the more abrasive side of sonic experimentation might be a bit left-field for regular rotation, but even here they continue to excel as far as the execution goes. See Through You is a logical next step for A Place to Bury Strangers, upholds their uncompromising, still satisfyingly cacophonous artistic vision.