A Place to Bury Strangers are on a mission to embrace a bold new sound on their fifth full-length, Pinned. They were looking for a new drummer in Lia Simone Braswell, and they found a collaborator. Her vocals on the new album add a haunting new layer to their aural assault.
From the first song “Never Coming Back” their new direction is evident. The singular fat bass line with the brooding goth-tinged vocals of Oliver Ackermann is pure A Place to Bury Strangers, but a high female voice rings out in response adding a haunting dark dream pop layer to the music. It is all at once familiar, but completely different. The song slowly builds, ratcheting up the tension “as the flames get higher” until it explodes into pure noise. This song is the embodiment of the band.
“Execution” is also on point. The song starts with a heavy drumbeat that is interrupted periodically with screeching noise. Post punk furor come noise rock. “There’s Only One of Us” is a Kills song gone wrong, the call and response between male and female voices driven ragged with a dark, aggressive guitar lick. This is Band of Skulls stripped of their hard rock bluster and infused with a punk rock snarl.
“Situations Change” is a pop song emerging from under water in a tunnel. Braswell’s high harmony adds an ethereal nature to a song that could easily slide into shoegaze. “Frustrated Operator” has a driving energy that thrusts the song forward. The vocals doubled on top of each other as the entire song threatens to decay into noise. It feels like the whole thing is struggling to stay together long enough to finish.
Ackermann channels Ian Curtis on “Was It Electric.” The song threatens to be a love song, but there is too much pain for love to triumph. The whole thing threatens to unravel under the weight of its own being. My favorite track on the album, “I Know I’ve Done Bad Things” is sparse with a super fast beat and spare guitar. The whole song builds, opening up to epic guitar distortion, slowly layering until it builds to an epic level, the final lyrics “I will take you” repeating over and over.
The album ends with “Keep Moving On,” a perfect denouement. Ackermann’s voice takes on a deep Andrew Eldritch-like cadence, the programmed drum track and the goth bassline make the track seem like it was plucked from a long lost Love and Rockets album. The song seems to disappear into the clouds.
The addition of Braswell on vocals has reenergized A Place to Bury Strangers sound. It has added a new sonic layer without sacrificing anything fundamental to the band. Pinned is a must listen for any fan of post-goth noise rock.
A Place to Bury Strangers is on tour now, find out where they are playing here.
Buy your very own copy of Pinned on vinyl here.
Watch the “Frustrated Operator” video below: