A Place to Bury Strangers

Worship

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Onwards to the Wall, the EP A Place to Bury Strangers issued between this album and Exploding Head, suggested the band was headed in a harder-edged, more streamlined direction that felt all the more radical given their previous full-length's wind tunnel dream pop. However, it isn't that easy to sum up where the band is going on Worship, and that's a big part of what makes these some of their finest and most interesting songs. A Place to Bury Strangers delivers on Onwards to the Wall's retro-futuristic grind -- which was as comfortable with Suicide's electro-punk as it was with My Bloody Valentine's wide guitar swaths -- particularly on "You Are the One," which builds from sleek beats into off-the-rails guitar explosions as it conflates love with collisions. It may be Worship's most thrilling moment, but it's nearly as exciting to hear the band slow down on "Slide"s spaghetti western twang, or on the swooning "Dissolved," which transforms midway through into a surprisingly peppy piece of guitar pop. Likewise, "And I'm Up"'s nostalgic chord changes evoke '60s pop fed through a buzzsaw a la the Raveonettes, but it sounds remarkably fresh considering APTBS' emotional range usually runs the gamut from sullen to glowering. They don't forget these roots, as well as their reputation as one of the loudest bands around; however, "Revenge" seethes with equal amounts of rage and feedback, while "Why I Can't Cry Anymore" is a textbook example of A Place to Bury Strangers' bad attitude and cranked amps. However, on tracks such as "Fear," the band takes a more minimalist approach to their fury, showing that they can use silence and echoes as formidably as distortion. In some ways, it's hard to believe that this is only A Place to Bury Strangers' third album; they've grown so sophisticated -- while remaining true to their basic sound -- that it seems like it should have taken them longer to get where they are on Worship, an album that's just as vital as it is accomplished.

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