At The Drive In: Relationship of Command


By Erik Gamlem

It’s inevitable. At the Drive In are doomed. They are doomed to make good music that no one will hear because it is not marketable towards the target buying audience. It’s too intelligent for the kids buying b-boy bullshit metal rap. It’s too polished for the pop punk So. Cal. Kiddies. Since they are now on a major label, all the boys and girls in “the scene” are going to yell “sell out” and abandon them despite obvious growth and fine tuning of everything they have been for the last five years or so.

At The Drive In’s early rock sounds like crappy emo slop. It’s was an unnurtured knock off of The Get Up Kids who in their own right are just a cleaner, more sensitive version of Green Day. However, years of relentless touring, practicing and recording have done wonders for At The Drive In and they have out grown their uncomfortable beginnings and thus their contemporary counter parts. 1999’s Vaya EP proved to be the pivotal moment that allowed At The Drive In to break from tide and make their own crashing waves. Relationship of Command picks up from the fresh ground of Vaya.

While the album is a little rocky the effort and energy are spectacular. The combination of electric piano, coupled with techno drum beats beneath wonderfully sonic and sometimes beautiful guitar lines makes this record a giant pedestal against all else that it will be compared to.

“Invalid Litter Department” is a political folk song with the explosion of youth distortion and energy behind it. An almost eighties guitar line builds up amongst the verse. Its gentile sweep elevates the wonderful vocals to explosion as the chorus comes to shatter the calm. “Rolodex Propaganda” is a disco-rock jam smashed against the fury of punk rock and stepped on by new wave. The song comes full circle with a total rock out break down. You’ll slip over yourself while dancing in your room in your camouflage underwear as you attempt to be as cool as these boys from El Paso, Texas.

The album’s only weakness is its awful track sequence. At times it can be uncomfortable to listen to. The songs don’t seem to fit together in the order they have been laid out for the listener. One may find themselves switching back and forth between tracks and not always absorbing the full effects that At The Drive In is capable of administering.

If all industry rock were this daring, there would be no need for the contradictory Rage Against The Machine pseudo political rock. If all indie music were this ambitious, perhaps there would be no reason to blow it off because of all the crap that is produced by half-assed white boys who just want to be the next big thing. At The Drive In has managed to grow beyond the immature shell of its beginnings and create art that is both interesting, motivating and moving. They have stepped out of genre rock and into sound manipulation while still retaining and awesome and rocking core for its audience to break shit to.

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