Review Summary: This album is near-flawless and sorely underappreciated, and if you go through the effort to find it, your ears will never be the same again.
The Photo Atlas are the gods behind some of my favourite music. I never want to stop listening to their uniquely incomparable sound. There is nothing quite like them. Every time I click play and the CD starts blaring away their amazing music, I slip into euphoria. This group messes with my mind every time I hear them; there is always something new to appreciate, even after hearing it a dozen times. It's music that gives and gives and then keeps on giving.
You probably haven't heard of The Photo Atlas because they're a self-proclaimed "dance-punk quartet" that produce under-the-radar music that will likely never resonate with the mainstream. Only recently have The Photo Atlas started to surface in certain epochs of the mainstream. Their single "Red Orange Yellow" can be found in Burnout Paradise's built-in playlist, but that's about it. I try to spread the word as much as I can, but one person only has so many friends. So, when I came here and discovered their album sat here review-less, I had to take action.
The greatest strength The Photo Atlas boasts is an amazingly unique sound. You have probably heard little-to-nothing that sounds like them. The distortions they use on their guitars are crazy; they pierce through the music at every turn but never overwhelm the other elements. These are some seriously talented musicians at work. Not only can they perform the crazy riffs they come up with; they write them and then pair them with fantastically-realized lyrics, which are performed by a talented lead vocalist. Even their weakest songs are stronger than most singles from other justifiably comparable bands.
Take a listen to "Lights and Sounds" and take in the lead vocalist's penetrating voice, which hits tones and reaches heights rarely seen in this type of music. Let the bass of "The Walls Have Eyes" sink into your head as your entire body slowly gives in to the pace of the music. "She Was A Matador" contains some incredibly effective guitarwork that will have you tapping your fingers in perfect synchronization. And "Red Orange Yellow" -- their single -- blares with its strange techno beats that are set against a backdrop of purely unapologetic punk. Throughout all their songs, from "Cutback" to "Merit" and everything in-between, quick splashes of protest, pain, anger, frustration, and resolve seep through the music and enter the ear. It's all very impressive and quickly becomes addictive. This is a band that understands how to use musical sounds to every possible advantage and it shows in the final product.
If you haven't heard of The Photo Atlas, and I'm guessing you haven't, check out some of their songs and prepare to make a purchase shortly after. This is some seriously great music, the kind of music that deserves to be at the forefront of our "great" radio stations but instead suffocates because of what is deemed popular. True, the album leaves you wanting more because it's so brief, but sometimes that is the price of some authentic, musically-sound, frenetically-composed, adrenaline-infused tunes that will have you appreciating and remembering why you love music so much in the first place. And it's a price I am willing to pay to be reminded of something priceless.