Pinned is the fifth studio offering from Brooklyn’s A Place To Bury Strangers who in their ten year history have garnered a reputation for releasing unique records and putting on mesmerising live performances.
They have had to make some big decisions in recent years, they were in search of a new drummer who arrived in the form of Lia Simone Braswell who was playing shows around Brooklyn where she had recently relocated from Los Angeles and has added an additional vocal element to the set opening up a new dimension to their sound. Frontman Oliver Ackermann remarks “as things go on, you don’t want them to be stagnant. 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. We always want to get better. 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.”
Opening with ‘Never Coming Back’, a bass riff dominates, exuding post-punk energies before the characteristic vocals come into play swiftly followed by a wave of noise which packs a punch. If anyone wasn’t sure what to expect from APTBS, this is a particularly good place to start. ‘Execution’ treads a different path, with atonal electronic noise dominating the opening before the track kicks in properly and the usual wall of sound prevails. ‘There’s Only One of Us’ again channels the finest post-punk entities I can think of, a sombre tone prevailing with the motoric drum beat and joint vocals playing off against each other perfectly. The eerie guitar riff shines to dominance in parts before passing the baton, maximising its effect.
‘Situations Change’ is a slower, more melodic number with powerful vocal harmonies working with the music beautifully without the feel of mania but we are soon back to that feeling with ‘Too Tough to Kill’, the dissonance adds the feeling that the vocals are somewhat removed. ‘Frustrated Operator’ offers a heavy, fuzzy bass riff which propels the track, along with the intense pace of the drum beat and frantic guitar interludes there is a lot going on in this track and trying to isolate the elements proves impossible; best just to soak it all in. ‘Look Me in The Eye’ is a fast-paced monster, with an electricity snap feel that punctuates throughout, which leads nicely into ‘Was it Electric’, which is slower, calmer and purposeful.
‘I Know I’ve Done Bad Things’ opens with a pacey bass riff competing with electronic static pops for attention, before the vocals and main riff come into play whilst ‘Act Your Age’ makes its mark from the offset. ‘Attitude’ channels more than a hint of Joy Division in its overall countenance, which can never be a bad thing and the swirling noise and vocal interaction sound almost siren like, utilising some serious punk vibes. Concluding ‘Keep Moving On’ seems an apt ending as it takes everything fans have come to know and love about APTBS and mixes them into one neat little track, a strong ending to a strong LP.
For fans of APTBS, this album will be welcome and for the un-initiated this is one of the better places to start as it offers a taste of all their best bits. The only down side is its over all too quickly, coming in at just 38 minutes…