Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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A Place to Bury Strangers

  • A Place to Bury Strangers [Killer Pimp, 2007] **
  • Exploding Head [Mute, 2009] A-
  • Onwards to the Wall [Dead Oceans EP, 2012] A-
  • Worship [Dead Oceans, 2012] A-

Consumer Guide Reviews:

A Place to Bury Strangers [Killer Pimp, 2007]
DIY sonics weaken music that knows how strong loud can be ("Don't Think Lover," "Ocean"). **

Exploding Head [Mute, 2009]
Do people play this skulbustium on their pathetic little computer speakers? What's the point? No sensible person wants to list Jesus and Mary Chain imitators after the trademark holders spent a whole career imitating themselves. But these guys also get to cite My Bloody Valentine's holy name. Bigger and cleaner and catchier, yet noisy and filthy and weird, they sing about various murky unpleasantnesses they don't expect us to comprehend. You know how some hypester always says Play Loud, and what's the point? Well, PLAY LOUD. After you BUY THE RECORD. So you can FEEL THE PURGE. A-

Onwards to the Wall [Dead Oceans EP, 2012]
The placeholder EP is blunter and slighter than the album, two pieces of echoey roar fore and aft flanking a title song whose surprising "I'm still in love with you" is enunciated credibly and of all things breathily by--of all things--a goil. Alanna Nuala of Moon, to be precise. You know--Moon. Actually, neither do I. A-

Worship [Dead Oceans, 2012]
With Oliver Ackermann a guitar effects tycoon first and a bandleader second, I hear them as an electronica outfit whose inhuman beat happens to be all volumized hard-rock boom-boom, only less funky than that stuff can get with sentient humans leaking flesh and blood on the tubs. What few words you can make out have the rare virtue of straightforwardness and are less miserabilist than you might fear--compelling sex in make-her-scream mode can cheer up a fella whose political-existential irrelevance is getting him down. But the album's logic is musical--even, plausibly, sexual. Beginning with a lyric whose faint eroticism is buried by the two-word theme statement "all alone," it works up to a provisional climax, tails to a lament followed by a dirge, and then explodes into overdrive: "Why I Can't Cry Anymore," Goth dread at its sanest and most desperate, followed by the breakneck rancor of "Revenge," presumably directed at the departed screamer. Lyrically, a dumb sequence--at least the two could have been reversed. Sonically, it's dynamite. A-