These four guys from Colorado play pumped-up pop-punk music. A lot of bands do this. I’m not sure why, maybe it’s really easy to do. Maybe it is a way to be a rock band but still get people dancing. Either way, it’s all good. Yay dancing, yay rock guitars, yay fun.
What sets the Photo Atlas apart? First, let’s go with “relentless attack.” These tracks never get bogged down, never quit, just keep burning until they’re done. No boring sloggy power ballads, no attempts at freaky time signatures, nothing like that. Just good old utilitarian bop-till-U-drop onslaught. Alan Andrews and Bill Threlkeld III play excellent pointillist guitar figures off each other like they’re trying to kill each other, and then us. So that’s definitely a plus.
Secondly, they have good taste in music. Sometimes they sound like the Knack or Gang of Four, other times like Landspeedrecord! or the Walkmen. This is an intriguing blend. They also try to do a disco thing on a lot of songs, kind of like Duran Duran pulled off. Mark Hawkins and Devon Shirley are a very good rhythm section, and they like switching beats up and putting them back together in weird ways. Plus, the record’s only 34 minutes long, so you don’t really notice that a few of the songs sound the same until the third or fourth time you’re through it.
Thirdly, Andrews is just a very unusual singer. I have no idea what he’s talking about most of the time, because he’s mostly yelling a lot, but it doesn’t matter. His voice sounds both bored and excited, hyper but hopeless; it’s like David Bowie and Gerald Way have merged, except as a tenor. I think. Anyway, it’s a cool voice, one very suited for saying a whole lot of “what was that?” over a driving-ass beat.
Yay the Photo Atlas! If this album had any depth to it that I could tell, I would end here with something pithy, but instead I’ll just say this is a rocking thing that makes one dance a lot and leave it at that.