Sunday, May 1, 2011

All At Once - The Airborne Toxic Event

Last week, The Airborne Toxic Event put out their second full-length, All At Once. Obviously I purchased the album on release day, but I haven't written about it until now because I'm a little disappointed. (Finally typing "disappointed" makes it seem so official. I just died a little inside). Don't get me wrong, I like the album. I just don't love it. At least not yet.

I'm not even entirely sure why I don't like All At Once as much as I wanted to. Mikel Jollet's beautiful poetic lyrics are still there. The songs are musically ambitious, far more so than on the band's self-titled debut album. The dark and stomping "Welcome To Your Wedding Day"sits comfortably alongside mellow heartwrenchers like "The Graveyard Near The House" and "The Kids Are Ready To Die." TATE may have gained a devoted fanbase after just one album, but they're not going to stay stuck in one type of sound. All At Once feels more experimental, like they are just dipping their toes into many different genres, and we're only just beginning to see how much they are capable of.

But for some reason, few of these songs really stick out to me. I loved the poppy first single, "Changing," the second I heard it. The opener, "All At Once," kicks off the album with a warm and building momentum, much like "Wishing Well," the opener to the first album. "All For A Woman" was my standout favorite upon first listen, and although I prefer the live version of "All I Ever Wanted," this new version is still solid. But then there are less memorable songs in between, like "Strange Girl" and "It Doesn't Mean A Thing." One of my favorite bands just put out songs that literally made me think "mehhhhh" after I first hear them. Hence the mild disappointment.

The band, hopefully plotting ways to make this up to me. 
In fairness, TATE is one of my absolute favorite live bands. In fact, my favorite album they've put out is actually All I Ever Wanted, which was recorded live at the Walt Disney Concert Hall. I will be seeing the band yet again in a few weeks, and I'm sure that hearing some of the new songs live will help me warm up to them. I'm sure Mikel and friends will wow me at the House of Blues in Boston, so I'll forgive them this time.


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