Oliver Ackermann’s long running post-punk/shoegaze/noise rock band A Place To Bury Strangers continues to morph and evolve into the perfect screeching, nihilistic sound blast. Guitars that sonically land somewhere between a chainsaw, exploding power grid, and a universe eating itself, while drums and bass keep a constant, robot-like rhythm to march into the apocalypse to. Ackermann’s vocals are like whispered refrains from the future; a cross between Jim Reid and Alan Vega with a touch of Lou Reed indifference.
Despite the Tinnitus-inducing volume and distortion, at the heart of APTBS are pop elements. There’s hooks and earworms and melodies to lock into, and with each passing album there’s a bit more to lock into. With See Through You, the band’s sixth full-length, Ackermann, bassist John Fedowitz, and drummer Sandra Fedowitz waste no time getting in and getting to business. This is a grimey, loud, and nasty noise rock album that hooks you with touches of pop while never turning the volume(and buzzsaw guitars) down.
13 tracks of jagged riffs and post-punk aggressiveness, See Through You never relents. Tracks like “Nice Of You To Be There For Me”, “So Low”, and “Dragged In A Hole” layer new wave spirit in a hefty mound of grit and grime. You can’t help but move your head to the beat while Ackermann puts a dose of no wave angst all over the proceedings.
Among the chaos APTBS drops touches of early 80s alternative and even industrial noise, like the sleek and doomy “I Disappear(When You Are Near)”. Even with all the echo and dizzying guitar deconstruction Ackermann can’t hide his doomed romantic. “Hold On Tight” is buzzing guitars and driving rhythm section, but with the spirit of disco punk strewn throughout. “I Don’t Know How You Do It” is the poppiest track Ackermann has ever put to tape, with the lilting melody grabbing you in earnest.
See Through You locks in and holds tight for nearly an hour runtime, never slagging off and keeping the BPMs moving along at a breakneck pace. You’d think after nearly 20 years Oliver Ackermann would have already unlocked all the different things one can do with guitar noise and violent sound deconstructionism, but APTBS surprises me every time.