Though Acrobatic Tenement may only be a blueprint for the band's later albums, it comes fully formed -- and as forceful as a bullet to the head. Cedric Dixler's barked emotional ferocity is perfectly complemented by nimble dual guitars, while Pall's bass snakes in and out of the heady mix. The result is a lurching masterpiece of an album that threatens to explode -- or implode -- at any moment. Unlike most hardcore bands, At the Drive-In know the value of subtlety, a trick they use to create an elaborate punk/metal soundscape of rhythms and tempo shifts. Not that these guys don't rock; in fact, slowing down once in a while gives the harder sections even more intensity. This is great music in the tradition of the Stooges and Fugazi, and is reminiscent of both those bands at their best. Not just a great album of the post-everything '90s, but a true timeless masterpiece of oblique lyrical insights and furiously rocking good tunes.
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AllMusic Review by Ari Wiznitzer