Megan’s Top 25 of 2009: #5 - A Place to Bury Strangers

Round about this time, I think, is the right time to give each member of the top 5 its own special post. Starting in at #5 with a band I almost totally and tragically ignored, A Place to Bury Strangers. Why did I almost give them the cold shoulder you might wonder? Well, little darlings of mine, it’s because of their name. Yes, their name almost sounded a little too emo to be true. I had horrible visions of bad haircuts and heavy eyeliner and awful lyrics. And shame on me, because I was so very wrong. After seeing them last Fall with LET favorites Darker My Love, I was made aware of the glaring error of my ways, and immediately ended my unfair APTBS embargo. Thankfully, there’s no moping suburban crap on this record. Exploding Head is a dark, grinding, heady record, glossy yet pleasingly rough around the edges.

The entire thing sounds a bit like vintage Nine Inch Nails (think Pretty Hate Machine era) having a torrid, dancey affair with Joy Division and Cure acolytes (or maybe even the real things) from the early 80s, with some Britpop dalliances thrown in for the sake of variety; it’s full of pounding synths and vocal echoes and drums that make you question whether they’re man or machine made. But the album is also decidedly modern, towering and imposing and full of pretty powerful sexiness. “Ego Death,” for example, is one of the biggest, boldest tracks on Exploding Head. Guitars grind and grate and play against the deep, husky vocals and basic drum machine beat. It’s simply exhilarating. The fantastic “Deadbeat” features one of my favorite lyrics of the year, “What the fuck/Don’t play with my heart,” as well as some seriously shattering guitar play. And the title track conjures up the ghost of early 80s Cure, in an eerily wonderful way. I was completely caught by surprise by this record, and by how much I found myself loving it. It’s the kind of album that grabs you from the start and refuses to let you go until it’s good and goddam ready to. Exploding Head hijacks your attention and forces itself into your ears and you will absolutely and completely love every minute of it.

mp3: Deadbeat (A Place to Bury Strangers from Exploding Head)


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