"The Airborne Toxic Event" by The Airborne Toxic Event

The Airborne Toxic Event
The Airborne Toxic Event

Majordomo Records
2008

Review

It took me a while to get into this album simply because of the hype surrounding it. I guess when something is hyped you inevitably have extremely high expectations of it that the source material maybe can't always live up to. Once I approached the album on its own terms, however, I found a lot to like.

Singer Mikel Jollett has a style of singing where in many cases it's almost more like talking than singing. On the spectrum of talking singers I would rank it as follows:

  1. Thomas D'Arcy (Small Sins)
  2. Paul Banks (Interpol) / Tom Smith (Editors)
  3. Mikel Jollett (Airborne Toxic Event)
  4. Brandon Flowers (The Killers)

That can be a bit off-putting at first just because it has been done before. But while the singing style might be similar to those bands, musically they are less dramatic than The Killers and more punk than Interpol and the Editors.

Not surprisingly, the songs where the singer is singing are the most engaging while the ones where he is vocally phones it in so to speak don't fare as well. Their current single "Sometime Around Midnight" was not a good choice for radio play although I suppose it will play well to the emo crowd. For me, this song represents the band at their downtempo/lack of energy worst. I would have gone with a song more like the uptempo/full of energy best example "Gasoline" where you have a ridiculously playful guitar lick and fast old-town rock and roll drums that set the stage for a song about remembering the rebel in love that you once were.

The album opener is also a bit of a downtempo affair. However, there is almost a sense of desperation in the delivery of the lyrics about hoping for better things to come. There is great passion in the track that sells the music very, very well. The tracks that follow are all excellent and pick up the pace a bit and carry with them a bit more of punk energy.

There are great lyrics throughout the album and on many of the tracks the quotables fall one after another in a dizzying fashion. Lyrically my favorite track on the album was the "Is it really over" ode to denial "Does This Mean You're Moving On"

From the balcony, you call my name
I see you standing in the rain
Your words so dry, your face so wet
Said I broke your heart,
But it hasn't happened yet
I'll bet, your friends all hate me now
I get the strangest looks,
From that bitchy crowd
And though, they must think
They have every reason to
I guess I'm still not quite yet over you

As it is, this album makes a fantastic addition to your music library if you are a fan of the Editors and Interpol. I think the ATE have much more accessible lyrics and more energy than those bands. Are they the next best thing ever? Well, I don't know yet. I think that this is a solid Rock album and they show a lot of promise. I look forward to seeing how their sound evolves.

4.100 out of 5

Track Ratings

1. Wishing Well (03:57) 4
2. Papillon (03:17) 5
3. Gasoline (03:20) 5
4. Happiness is Overrated (03:11) 4
5. Does This Mean You're Moving On? (02:13) 5
6. This is Nowhere (02:49) 4
7. Sometime Around Midnight (05:03) 3
8. Something New (03:07) 5
9. Missy (03:39) 3
10. Innocence (06:48) 3