Album Review: A place to Bury Strangers – Pinned

A Place To Bury Strangers have announced their new album, Pinned. Coming April 13th on Dead Oceans, this will be their fifth full length album finds and explores some of their most urgent work to date.

A couple of years ago, A Place To Bury Strangers made a big decision. They were in search of a new drummer and met Lia Simone Braswell who was playing shows around Brooklyn where she had recently relocated from Los Angeles. After seeing her play they asked Braswell if she’d want to come to a band practice sometime. While not only cementing herself as the band’s new drummer, Braswell also contributes vocals on Pinned, opening up a whole new dimension in the band’s music. “As things go on, you don’t want them to be stagnant,” Ackermann remarks. “Being a band for ten years, it’s hard to keep things moving forward. I see so many bands that have been around and they’re a weaker version of what they used to be. This band is anti-that. We try to push ourselves constantly, with the live shows and the recordings. You’ve got to dig deep and take chances, and sometimes, I questioned that. It took really breaking through to make it work. I think we did that.”

I had the pleasure of seeing A Place To Bury Strangers recently when they were on tour with The Black Angels, and they completely overshadowed the headliner. Most people in the room were not quite ready for the sonic assault they received, and I can say first hand that Lia is a truly superb addition to the band.

Most of us are often suspicious when a band announces a new direction, or even a new album for that matter, especially when the band is hinting at new directions and such things. With the tense, anxious opening track ‘Never Coming Back’ setting a somewhat post-punk tone it eventually gave way to a truly mind splintering guitar tone, half way through follow on Execution, which prior to that has this air of New Order about it,  but it felt like it was back in familiar territory. The addition of female vocals is a welcome touch too, adding a slight softness and delicacy to the harsh abrasion of the music. Elsewhere on the record, Too Tough To Kill is this pulsating almost Cramps like number, while Look me in the Eye is glorious in its edgy punkisms.

This album definitely does explore some new territory. It may alienate some current fans, but welcome new ones into the fold at the same time. The band has developed a lot since the days of To Fix The Gash In Your Head, the song that gained them a lot of attention. They certainly sound like they’ve been absorbing some more influences in their spare time. ‘Pinned’ has moments of grunge, indie and some quite accessible song writing in it. In moments it even has a Sisters Of Mercy thing going on – Frustrated Operator being one example. While this is all painted with the wall of sound we all know and love, it’s definitely a more specific vibe they’re gone for. A new vibe altogether in fact, and while it’s not one that some fans will like, I’m happy to bet that this album will sit well on the record store shelves and gain some new fans.

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