The Atari Star–Aniseed
Unfortunately for The Atari Star, I could immediately draw a few similarities between them and other bands. However, the comparable bands aren’t awful and this could work to Atari Star’s advantage. At first I felt like I was listening to a more pop oriented version of the Dismemberment Plan. Upon further listening, I felt like it shared vocal similarities with Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. Basically, this record culls the best elements of each of the previously listed bands. My only real problem with this record was its production. I might sound like a stickler for this, but the drums and bass seem to fall in a weird spot in the mix. The drums are really in your face, along with the bass lines being a bit too full of treble (meaning they are perfectly distinct). I feel like both instruments would mesh better on a Promise Ring record, having a younger, pop feel. With the album’s laid back style, the drums could have been mixed a little more subtly in the mix. The bass could also use a push and a more organic setting in order to better achieve what they were looking to do with their songs.
That being said, this album isn’t so bad. The songs carry a sort of upbeat energy that keeps the listener engaged. The singer also has a unique voice that interests the listener. There is a wide variety of instrumentation that adds texture to the songs; the Hammond B3 organ, bassoon, trumpet and cello, as well as the traditional rock outfitting, make appearances. The organ specifically lends the songs a nostalgic feeling that throws the Atari Star back to the sixties.
The best track on the record is the slowest and longest. The song “Serpentine” is a somber gem that floats in and flutters with beauty. It seems that a lot of attention was given to the guitar work. Everything fits perfectly in the mix; the minimal drums accent the song in just the right way and the bass allows the song to breathe. The aforementioned production issues are not present in this track. Even while listening to this song in the car and leaving the record playing in the background, I was instantly forced to stop and turn it up. It could be that I’m a sucker for slow and pretty songs, but this track is the album’s standout. However, it doesn’t speak for the rest of the album. If you want to know what you’re getting into, you can just listen to the opening track “This is Where I Often Pause.” The album holds the same pop energy and feel throughout with the exception of “Serpentine” and its closing track “Letter to Ernst.”