Review Summary: Charged with electrifying energy yet tender and heartfelt, this album is the perfect blend of everything At the Drive-In did so, so well.
There has always been something magical about music for me. I can remember my parents putting Beatles tapes on in my room at night when I was about five years old. I can still picture myself in bed, staring out the window and slowly drifting off to sleep with melodies still floating in and out of my head. Even back then, there was something about music that allowed me to wholeheartedly give myself up to it, and let it take me along wherever it was going. Good music recaptures this amazing feeling of childlike wonder I used to get from listening to the Beatles when I was little, and at its best moments, it can be powerful and truly shiver-inducing.
This is music at its best. From the raw, unrefined "Chanbara," to the absolutely breathtaking "Napoleon Solo," and the plodding epic of "Lopsided," this album is overflowing with sloppy greatness. Instrumentally, this is damn near a perfect post-hardcore album, with brilliant dual guitar interplay courtesy of Omar and Jim, strong basslines and effective (but not amazing) drumming. Listening to In/Casino/Out
, you can almost literally feel the chemistry between the band. The guitar lines weave in and out of each other constantly, and whether raw and emotive or shimmering and playful, always remain tasteful, finding a key balance between heavy, melodic, and dissonant, while the bass and drums provide a backbone and Cedric nimbly yelps, barks and screams his unique lyrics over the whole twisted, wonderful mess. The best example of the more energetic side of the album is on "Pickpocket," which shows off a dissonant, but oddly catchy guitar lines during the verses and a chorus that absolutely explodes with energy, complete with bombastic drumming and Cedric half singing, half screaming "daylight savings time will never know of this alabaster cold" (whatever that means.) The song is energetic and catchy, with infectious hooks and rhythms flying left and right, and enough emotion thrown in to leave a lasting impression on any listener.
On the other side, we have songs like the aforementioned "Napoleon Solo" and "Lopsided," slow-growing, cathartic masterpieces that capture the raw power of emotion so well, it's hard not to be completely floored by what At the Drive-In have produced. "Napoleon Solo" begins with two more intertwining guitar lines and features one of the best vocal performances of Cedric's career. As the song grows, you can feel the emotion building in his voice until the bridge section, where he repeats the lyrics from the beginning of the song before climaxing with breathtakingly emotive screams. The band explodes with jaw-dropping power and lets loose a completely unrestrained wall of sound that crashes down on the listener and doesn't let up until all the energy of the song has been completely and utterly spent. The song ends as Cedric lets out one final cry of "this is forever," and the music dies out in the background, leaving you speechless and gasping for breath in its wake.
There are definite standout tracks, but the truth is, not one song on In/Casino/Out is bad. Every second of the album is enjoyable, and it is packed with memorable performances by every member of the band. With this record, At the Drive-In created something truly remarkable, and the fact that this still sounds as amazing as it does a decade after its release makes it a classic in the purest sense of the word. In/Casino/Out drips with passion and explodes with enough energy to sustain a small city, making you wonder why no other post-hardcore band sounds this good. As popular as At the Drive-In are, I feel like this is an album that is criminally overlooked, and deserves its rightful place next to Relationship of Command as one of the best albums by one of the greatest bands of our generation.