by Alex Monzel
Attic Abasement returns with their sixth release and third full-length LP, Dream News. When the first notes of “Guarantee Jesus” hit my tired ears, I was pleased to be encapsulated in the mellow sounds of down tempo instrumentals. Then the vocals came in like a hammer shattering a pane of glass. As this is my largest criticism of this album, and this dissonance rears its ugly head in most tracks, I will extrapolate further so the air is clear for the rest of this review. It may appear as if the vocals are at fault given the previous simile, but that’s not the case in the slightest (an online supporter referred to the vocals as monotone but melodic, which is an eerily accurate description). Rather, each component/ each member is quite talented and adept at their contribution to the band; they’re just not working towards the same sound. Instead of functioning in harmony (pun intended) the vocals, instruments, and the production appear to be at war, constantly fighting to declare a genre. No one thing wins in the end, rather the product of this conflict ends up being more of a seven layer salad instead of a mixing pot. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with a seven layer salad, except when three of those layers are like Doritos, gummy bears, and gravel. It just doesn’t work, and it’s really bad for your teeth. This metaphor is getting out of hand, so let’s continue.
Attic Abasement goes for a more simple sound. Lo-fi production, minimal effects, etc. make for a more unique and elegant sound, but sometimes it becomes a deficit. For instance, in “Statuesque Mess” it sounds like instead of simply turning the volume up on the vocal track, Mike Rheinheimer just shouted into the microphone to compensate. Which, again, caused further clashing between its elements. These first tracks don’t appear to provide much hope for the rest of the album, but the middle tracks actually show some improvement. “Own Your Enemies,” “Show Up To Leave,” and “So Far” are rather decent songs, and “Abigail Folger” is probably my favorite off the record. They still display the same mismatch as the beginning of the album, however they do so in a way that is a bit more easily ignored.
One of the biggest letdowns of the record was “Endless & Perfect.” It had the opportunity to be an amazing song. The lyrics, chord progression, beat; everything was set up to be a rock classic, but they missed the target by the smallest margin. Perhaps some distortion on the guitars or some filtering of the vocals, I can’t say for certain. All I know is that I really want to love it, but I can’t quite get there.
And that appears to be the theme for this entire album. Overall, Attic Abasement is a rather impressive band. After reading up on them they do seem a bit pretentious, but that’s most likely an unsubstantiated personal judgment, and besides that makes for some of the best musicians sometimes. Despite that, I really do want to love this record, but I just can’t. I still have hope for whatever they put out next, and given their almost cult following I imagine they’ll be around for a while to achieve what they are truly capable of.