The Atari Star – Prayer + Pretend (CD)

The Atari Star’s vocalist, Marc, sounds as if Dexter Holland and Neil Young had a child. The mastering on “Prayer + Pretend” 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 “Starve a Fever” jerks the listener around, only moving into an early-nineties brand of distortion later on in the track. The album’s cohesive sound is no doubt due to the extreme duration of this band – 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 “Night Striped Assassins”. 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 “Bridge of Sighs” 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. Rob’s bass).

While epic tracks are typically monuments to a band’s tremendous egos, “Asphalt Everest” is an emotive track that paints more of a picture from the atmosphere it creates than the lyrics softly spoken by Marc. “Copper” is the perfect antithesis to “Asphalt Everest”, a track almost as simplistic in its style of rock as “Asphalt” was to experimental, even ambient music. Drawing together such rock luminaries as the Velvet Underground and Free, “Copper” is as expertly done as anything else that is on “Prayer + Pretend”. The compression on “Prayer + Pretend” 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 “Silver Montgomery”, 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 Star’s music will be as vibrant and exciting as it ever has. The mastering which may have been constricting the band’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

Rating: 6.2/10

The Atari Star – Prayer + Pretend / 2004 Johann’s Face Records / 10 Tracks / http://www.theataristar.com / http://www.johannsface.com / Reviewed 24 January 2005

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