“Nightmare Pop.” That’s how Matthew Park, frontman of Airstrip, describes the band’s music. Whether the music is supposed to be nightmarish or pop is a mystery, because it sure as hell doesn’t seem like either. From track one, “Pleasure Center,” you almost think you are in for some sort of surf rock surprise but no, that’s not right. The next song, “Middle of The Night,” is some sort of hard rock jam. Further in, it gets borderline experimental. So what should be expected from Willing?
Unfortunately an inconsistent style isn’t the only thing that comes with Airstrip’s Willing. You can’t expect anything innovative from this album nor should you expect some sort of masterpiece. It’s a bit repetitive, and Airstrip really doesn’t do much to remedy this. “Pleasure Center” seemingly uses the same two twangy guitar riffs through the entire song with one (almost) climatic moment that really isn’t that exciting. Normally this could be pretty acceptable–especially because it isn’t a bad song–but it happens again and again. Maybe this is the basis for music in general; you take a few melodies, you get a good rhythm, and you throw a quick section in to dazzle the listener. That isn’t an excuse for what’s going on here though. There are no “wow” moments. There is nothing to make the band shine and show off their talent. They keep setting you up and then leave you hanging. It’s pretty disappointing actually.
On the other hand, Airstrip is pretty good. In order for a band to leave you hanging in the first place, they have to have done something right. Whatever it is Airstrip does, it tends to be a little bit catchy. You find yourself wanting to listen a little longer. Remember those climatic parts? Most of the time you can’t expect much, but now and then, Airstrip times it just right and plays it in such a way that you can’t help but think, “Why didn’t anyone tell me they were so good?” The eighth track “Angry Bed” happens to be a prime example of what Airstrip can do. At first, the only thing to keep you hanging on is some mildly entertaining lyrics but then that moment comes. Maybe because it’s one of the most active moment’s of the album, but it hits like a wonder. A synth shines in the background, adding texture to the music, the guitar strums vibrantly with seemingly the most emotion you’ve heard all album. For whatever reason, the vocals just seem to click too.
A band’s very first album is always a bit difficult because no matter how experienced the musicians are, there’s no telling what the listener is going to get. Airstrip’s debut album, Willing, is no different. Willing is rough around the edges; inconsistencies and repetitiveness make it sound a bit unrefined to say the least. The album does show promise however, and with a little practice, Airstrip will be great.
MP3: Airstrip “Angry Bed”