Review Summary: Sometime in the mid-to-late afternoon
I feel bad for The Airborne Toxic Event, because it’s looking more and more like “Sometime Around Midnight” will remain the gold standard for this band’s material. And look, “Sometime Around Midnight” was a good song, but if my defining moment as a human being was getting ***faced and devastated by my ex-girlfriend on public radio, I would feel kind of awful about myself.
But the band’s debut album, from which the song was taken, was pretty good. And their follow-up to that, All at Once
was inoffensive enough as a lazier, stripped-down version of the self-titled. Bands have made much worse mistakes, and put out much worse albums.
But then there’s Such Hot Blood
, which is a genuinely frustrating listen because the band literally seems to have no idea what they want to do here. Perhaps they should go back to the style of the first album that gave them a gold single? Well they do, for about a third of the tracks here. Maybe they should just buzz along like The Killers’ broken refrigerator like they did for half of All at Once
? You’ve got some of that, too. How about a couple love ballads sandwiched in between the band’s signature midnight tales of heartbreak that kind of weaken the appeal of either type of song? Yes sir.
Progression is a worthy goal (and a worthier excuse), but The Airborne Toxic Event are going in twelve different directions and none of them are particularly interesting. There has to be some kind of unspoken rule about starting off an album with the one-two punch of the “The Secret”, which rattles like an angsty B-side off their self-titled album, and “Timeless”, a schmaltzy ballad that successfully manages to land in The Fray territory. It’s kind of tough pull off a vein-popping, mic-grabbing cut after channeling your inner Isaac Slade, and when you do, you just kind of sound like Blue October.
There’s a pattern here, and it’s that Such Hot Blood
is a pretty flimsy recreation of a lot of mediocre alternative rock bands. This band was more than that five years ago. They can take solace, however, in knowing I will probably hear multiple tracks off this album on the adult contemporary station at my local Hair Cuttery.