Alien Ant Farm

Up in the Attic

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Alien Ant Farm may have appeared on the national scene in 2001 in association with the nu metal crowd, but five years later and four albums in, the band is sporting this tag as loosely as ever. So while the aggro-crunching guitars are still mostly on hand, the full-on brash attack usually connected to the scene has largely been replaced on Up in the Attic with added melodic instincts and random components like horn sections, keyboards, strings -- hell, the liner notes even credit use of a mandolin and theremin. Now before you panic, it's not quite the divergent sonic party that a list of this nature suggests. "Bad Morning" and the bitter "Forgive & Forget" forcefully open the album with brazen guitars and bashing rhythms, so really, Alien Ant Farm still sound like themselves. But as they've always been a bit quirkier and melodically inclined than the Limp Bizkits of the world, the further listeners go into the album, songs become a bit more pop-oriented and less hard-hitting in nature. This isn't really a bad thing, though; most work out fine (like the standout, representative hybrid of "Around the Block"), making Up in the Attic great for a leisurely afternoon of cruising around the neighborhood. "Crickets" rolls lazily along, largely propelled by calm guitars and piano, while the acoustic-based "Supreme Lifestyle" brims with warm, robust vocal harmonies over light percussion and strings. But lead singer Dryden Mitchell doesn't use these early-evening moments as reason to restrain his singing, since his voice remains strong and gripping throughout. Taken at the song level, Alien Ant Farm continue to stretch the boundaries of their vaguely alt-metal repertoire and, aside from various moments of filler, the band does it with apparent ease. At the album level, though, there's something that makes Up in the Attic seem a bit hodgepodge and lopsided, instead of cohesive. But hey, play it on shuffle mode, skip past the occasional song, and all should be OK.

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