A Place To Bury Strangers – Exploding Head (Mute)

A Place To Bury Strangers were quickly ripped from the New York club scene and placed on the national stage in 2008 thanks to the Pitchfork hype machine, and the merits of their impressive debut album. The modest success that followed (headlining tours, opening slots for Nine Inch Nails, and signing to larger indie label Mute) hasn’t changed the band’s sound much, as evidenced by their second album, Exploding Head. The production is a shade cleaner, but they’re still a band that’s largely defined by the almost obscene level of guitar pedal-induced noise they can conjure up. This approach works in their favor on the album’s early tracks, like the wildly careening opener “It Is Nothing”,  and “Lost Feeling” with its post-punk tribal drums; but most Exploding Head’s songs are weaker than their debut. Even “I’ve Lived My Life To Stand In The Shadow Of Your Heart”, a re-recorded version of an older song, is less effective than its previous incarnation. The Jesus and Mary Chain is still their most obvious influence (try finding a review that doesn’t mention them), but they fail to realize is that, for every great song the Reid Brothers bathed in ripping feedback, there was another that showed the song-craft lurking beneath the noise. Exploding Head tells me APTBS aren’t particularly strong songwriter, and they are way too eager to simply let the noise do all the talking for them. If all they wanted to do is make interesting ear-shattering sounds, then they’ve accomplished their goal. But if they wanted to achieve something more, and have real staying power, they’ll need to try a little harder.