Review Summary: An album with an incredible number of influences finds a way to separate itself from all of them.
On the surface Atlas Drugged
is an aggressively strange post hardcore release that is somehow rooted in accessibility. It’s a pop punk album that cites progressive rock as its biggest authority. The most chaotic moments here are plagued with catchy melodies. It’s not afraid to tackle any genre, but never has a moment of “wait, that transition didn’t make sense”. No style of music is off limits, but instead of such peer bands as Mr. Bungle
, Tub Ring
, Dog Fashion Disco
, or others of the like that always have moments of smashing puzzle pieces together that were never meant to be matched, Look What I Did
’s approach remains so smooth throughout the album that its list of influencers all appear to have come from one place. Their methods make you feel as if the very unorthodox sound of Atlas Drugged
was in fact an established genre of music all along.
Throughout its length, you can find fuzzy, effortless, yet complex bass lines, atmospheric guitar solos, impressive, bouncy drums fills, and a voice that shifts from harsh vocals to a croon that understands melody in ways that will gently drill into your brain with no intention of ever leaving. The band truly understands each other and plays off of its mates in constantly impressive manners. Their chaos to paradise and back again dynamic grips you in ways that is a rarity in nearly any genre of music. This is made even more confounding by the fact that Look What I Did
is a genre almost all their own.
In lyrical conception, the album is socially aware to the point that it can sometimes be surprising, humbling, and even disarming. The album’s title appears to be an attack on the Ayn Rand novel, Atlas Shrugged
. A very large portion of the lyrics follow suit with it’s culmination happening on the album’s closer as a simple but powerful question is presented to those who hold a dog eat dog world view:
“What if that was you right now?”
However, most of the lyrics do not hold a serious tone. Many songs are themed around absurd humor that still manages to be thought provoking. Some of the best examples that come to mind in terms of comparisons are not fellow lyricists, but authors during the golden age of dark satire such as Joseph Heller and Kurt Vonnegut. “Pussy Comitatus” builds an almost sympathetic view of a domestic abuser which is something that can not be done without extraordinary finesse, but the lyrics never for a moment seem like they’re approached with caution. The album opens with an all out attack on those who profit through religion, and a few songs in focuses its rage on rich kids that go to college with no intention of direction in “I’m Majoring in Psychology”. This song pairs a very innocuous concept with pandemonium as the vocals desperately belt out “Let’s spend our parents' money! Let’s spend our parents' money! Let’s go to college!” over a sea of instrumental turmoil.
With Atlas Drugged, the listener is sure to find themselves in musical territory that seems familiar, but is somehow something entirely new. And for those looking for something that they will likely find nowhere else, it is a terrific journey. The album hits hard during the actual run time, but will continue to haunt you in the following hours, days, and weeks by its impressively strange combination of anarchic instrumentals with soaring melodies and beautiful vocal harmonies that never for a moment seem anything near mismatched.
Six Flags Over Jesus
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