The Atari Starâ€™s vocalist, Marc, sounds as if Dexter Holland and Neil Young had a child. The mastering on â€œPrayer + Pretendâ€ is similar. There is tremendous fury laced throughout this disc, but the oppressive mastering found on this disc holds the band from achieving much more. The iconic guitar lines on a track like â€œStarve a Feverâ€ jerks the listener around, only moving into an early-nineties brand of distortion later on in the track. The albumâ€™s cohesive sound is no doubt due to the extreme duration of this band â€“ breaking five years this year, The Atari Star knows exactly where to go with their music. Finally living up to their name, The Atari Star streaks into the Jazz-influenced â€œNight Striped Assassinsâ€. Chugging along with a fury with which punk bands would be jealous, The Atari Star can kick in a horn and arena rock riffs (Night Striped Assassins, again) and have them sound as in place as the guitar, bass and drums. A track like â€œBridge of Sighsâ€ starts out slowly and tiptoes on the lines of mediocrity for quite awhile, finally coming into its right with the increasing chaos egged on by the low-end (e.g. Robâ€™s bass).
While epic tracks are typically monuments to a bandâ€™s tremendous egos, â€œAsphalt Everestâ€ is an emotive track that paints more of a picture from the atmosphere it creates than the lyrics softly spoken by Marc. â€œCopperâ€ is the perfect antithesis to â€œAsphalt Everestâ€, a track almost as simplistic in its style of rock as â€œAsphaltâ€ was to experimental, even ambient music. Drawing together such rock luminaries as the Velvet Underground and Free, â€œCopperâ€ is as expertly done as anything else that is on â€œPrayer + Pretendâ€. The compression on â€œPrayer + Pretendâ€ disappears or fades into the background fairly quickly, so by the time one is half-way through the disc everything sounds almost as if they were watching The Atari Star live.
Finishing off the disc with tracks like â€œSilver Montgomeryâ€, The Atari Star coalesces everything different and exciting to be found on the disc into one five-minute track. Irregardless of time or period, The Atari Starâ€™s music will be as vibrant and exciting as it ever has. The mastering which may have been constricting the bandâ€™s creativity at the onset of the disc is now like a glove, accentuating the shape and sound of the music.
Top Tracks: Silver Montgomery, Starve A Fever
The Atari Star â€“ Prayer + Pretend / 2004 Johannâ€™s Face Records / 10 Tracks / http://www.theataristar.com / http://www.johannsface.com / Reviewed 24 January 2005