The Ataris - So Long, Astoria (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

The Ataris

So Long, Astoria (2003)


So here it is. It goes without saying, but was undoubtedly one of the most anticipated releases of the year. Everyone was looking to see what would come of the Ataris's major-label debut, and here it is.

If you think about it, So Long, Astoria is where they were headed. This CD is not really pop-punk...not skate-punk...just flat-out rock, really. This whole album has the most nostalgic feel of anything I've ever encountered. Each song is like an excerpt from a journal, every lyric a remembrance of something.

That signature tone of the Ataris initiates the disc, leading right into the title track. There is beautifully controlled anger throughout this song; you can hear it in Kris Roe's voice especially as he closes it out, saying "I'm taking 'em all back." Memories are the first thing in mind when hearing this lyric.

It's followed up by really one of a few doses of "about a girl" songs, something that was sort of a standard for past Ataris songs or albums. "Takeoffs and Landings" is nonetheless a solid song.

Honestly, "In this Diary" could use a revised name, but it's my only problem with this song. The hook before the chorus is genius, and being a single the formula is hardly of a generic sort.

As the album flows through, we only receive a few ballads, thankfully, but even these sometimes-piano-laden songs don't require you to take an Antacid.

"All You Can Ever Learn is What You Already Know" is where the Ataris show great great form. "I'm trying to believe in you but all these satellites/and broken dreams are blocking out my view" is a chorus you look forward to, and Roe's growling to close the song (another Ataris standard, but no gripes here) cannot be described in words.

"The Boys of Summer" never sounded better; the Ataris do a solid job on this, hardly making a classic rock cover sound trite. The re-recorded "I Won't Spend Another Night Alone" provides another memory, and the second-to-lastness of it does just that, before heading into the acoustic "Saddest Song."

It is, overall, a solid album. One of the better albums of the handful they've released; basically, a landmark in their career. Lyrically matured (for the most part, anyway), musically matured, and forcefully matured. They were due.