Boasting one of the best covers I’ve seen in a long time, a U.S. Airforce photo of a helicopter hovering over freshly decimated terrain, Alpha Sounds is Atombombpocketknife’s debut full-length, after their eponymous EP released last spring. Not much has changed between releases; the tracks still employ warbling bass lines and Justin Sinkovich remains complacent behind the microphone, never really getting roused up…and then there’s the Unwound comparison. The main thing this record made me want to do was listen to New Plastic Ideas or Repetition, with I’m assuming was not ABPK’s original intent. However, being compared with Unwound is not a bad thing for a young band looking to make it in the rough-and-tumble world of rock ‘n’ roll. If only there was a slight honing of the sound, more jelling between band members, more build-ups and climaxes rather than cases of musical impotence. ABPK seem to have to components to make it work, to make a kick-ass record that will blow away their competitors, it’s just a matter of time before the right equation falls into place.
Not to sell them short, of course, as Alpha Sounds does have some highlights, which fall towards the middle of the record. We cut to the fat behind the gristle and bones on songs like “Playing Chandeliers” and “Conceit Needs Concentration,” the former especially, which features a great up-tempo factory-sounding anti-rock ending.
Ultimately Atombombpocketknife end up being a good band but not a great one. Hopefully their time in the spotlight has yet to arrive, and when it does I’ll surely be a monkey’s uncle if they don’t ride the frothy waves of post-rock success.