Review Summary: A complete upheavel of both sound and approach to songwriting for The Ataris, which despite the obvious departure proves to be some of the bands finest work.5 of 5 thought this review was well written
Sit yourself down and make yourself comfortable for I am about to tell you the story of an almost legendary pop punk band from Anderson, Indiana. A great many aeons ago (Four years ago to be precise) there existed a band called The Ataris who wrote a string of near perfect pop punk classics featuring singer Kris Roe’s heartfelt punk rock anthems which earned them legions of devoted fans, who clung to every emotionally charged line. Somewhere between now in 2007 and the release of their last album So Long, Astoria
that band died a slow death. However like the super villain rising up at the climax of a Hollywood blockbuster to battle the hero in some kind of mutated hybrid of its past self, The Ataris are back, albeit with barely a trace of the band they once were. Now employing a sound more akin to My Bloody Valentine, Slowdive
and Archers of Loaf
than to their sound on End is Forever
and Blue Skies and Broken Hearts
what has become The Kris Roe Symphony Orchestra presents to you Welcome the Night
The Ataris has always basically been frontman Kris Roe’s band and any assistance from other band members more certainly secondary to Kris. In short he writes almost all the songs, all the lyrics and is almost completely in charge of the bands creative direction. The bands line up has always been ever changing and this time out Kris Roe decided to employ an army of musical mercenaries to help him record Welcome the Night
. The band now contains three guitarists, a bass, drums, piano and strangely a full time and full touring cellist.
To even begin to compare this album to the bands previous works is like comparing black metal to country and western. The change isn’t quite so extreme but it is huge, so big that Kris initially wanted to release it under a different name but was convinced otherwise by Columbia Records
who the band later left for indie label Sanctuary
. Changes aside there is no reason why Welcome the Night
can’t be an excellent record and in truth its pretty good. Not a classic by any means but a very respectable effort which highlights Kris’s ability to write infectious pop hooks to the backdrop of almost any style. Welcome the Night
begins with the lead single and the albums most accessible track Not Capable of Love
. The song was added at the request of Columbia who refused to release the album without what they considered a single. It is driven by a furious overdriven riff and has a strangely electronic feel. Roe’s vocals are reminiscent of Robert Smith’s throughout the album and The Cure
influence is very prevalent. Lyrically we have a tale of relationships like you’d expect from The Ataris but it’s delivered which such unbounded maturity when compared with previous work.
“Beneath the glow of this hanging moon, Lies a city still and cold, Our silhouettes walk hand in hand, the drunken jukebox serenade. We pretend we're so innocent because no one ever likes to hurt. Go take off that silver dress and expose your naked heart.”
However it’s not all about girls and Secret Handshakes
deals with Kris’s ex-step father’s involvement with the freemasons’ that almost took his step sisters life. Alternatively Welcome the Night
is a spiritual revelation and the whole album has an aura of the supernatural about it, to add to the confusion even further the album is loosely based on a series of disturbing dreams that Kris’ experienced as a child. In terms of instruments and the sound of the album, the instruments all tend the blur together to create what is at time haunting and at other times beautiful wall of sound, with no particular instrument standing out but all of them working together for a feeling of ambience and serenity.
Welcome the Night
is an album that has to be listened to closely to be appreciated, its not for the most part something that’s hits you straight away but requires a familiarity with the material before you can really appreciate its textures and depth. Continuing with the theme of secret societies we have the The Cheyenne Line
, its title being a reference to the search for the Holy Grail. Kris screams out, “If your alive, then be truly alive.”
The song weaves together a complex musical soundscapes with an excellent pop hook to make for easily the best Welcome the Night
has to offer. In terms of slower building tracks both We All Become Smoke
and Act V, Scene IV
are worthy of mention but in a sense it is betraying the feel of the album to name individual songs, as it really benefits from an uninterrupted listen from the opening note right up until the last fade out.
If like myself you were once a fan of the old Ataris but have experienced new found musical maturity then Welcome The Night
may actually be a welcome change, in my opinion this far surpasses anything The Ataris have previously recorded and is a more than accurate representation of the talent Kris Roe has always possessed. No longer confined by four chord punk rock songs The Ataris has been let free to make an album which blends a great many styles and achieves something remarkable in the face of great adversary.
The Cheyenne Line
Not Capable of Love