At the Drive-In - Acrobatic Tenement (Cover Artwork)

At the Drive-In

Acrobatic Tenement (1996)


The world is supposed to end today. Oh, don't worry if you missed it, I missed it too. Similar to this missing the final day of earth as we knew it, several years ago I also came to the realization that 'hey Nick, you completely missed out on At the Drive In, you dickhead!' Yeah, I did. I only became interested in the band as their videos for "One Armed Scissor" and "Invalid Litter Dept." began getting some late night play on MTV2 (hey I was only 14 at the time). Since then, the band had broken up (hiatus my ass) and went on to form the so-so Sparta and the so-so Mars Volta. What we are left with are a slew of albums that, if not epitomize, then definitely offer up a healthy contribution to what American post punk sounded like in the mid to late 90's.

"Acrobatic Tenement" is the bands first album. Although it is probably not considered to be as definitive as the jaw dropping "Vaya" EP or "In Casino Out", it is a decidely compelling listen. "Star Slight" starts the LP off, complete with disjointed vocal melodies, frayed guitar bashing, and persistent snare, pushing things in at a quick clip. Although most people equate At the Drive In with the Fugazi by way of Rage Against the Machine sound of later albums, "Acrobatic Tenement" actually finds the band playing in what some might consider a more typical indie rock fashion, ala Archers of the Loaf. Other comparison's could be drawn to "!" era Dismemberment Plan, and with a song like "Ebroglio"s shifting tempos, frayed guitar work, and stop start dynamic, it's not hard to see why. Of course, At the Drive In's characteristic oblique lyrical tendencies are blatantly on view here, song's like "Skips on the Record" have lines like "pregnant with the keys to your stickshift mood/ can't get yourself ignition". The album falters for a slight bit with a song like "Initiation", however the complaints here are so moot, that they aren't even worth writing about.

Looking back, alot can be said about At the Drive In. Their incendiary sound had a definite influence on a lot of bands we are seeing today like Thursday. And while we may not have them around any more, we certainly have the records, and "Acrobatic Tenement" is an excellent place to start. By the way, Earth should be ending in about 15 minutes, thought you might want to know.