Attack in Black - Years (By One Thousand Fingertips) (Cover Artwork)

Attack in Black

Years (By One Thousand Fingertips) (2009)

Dine Alone

Attack in Black's 2007 effort, Marriage, a critically lauded blend of folk-infused punk with classic rock sensibility, was hardly a sign of things to come for the once hardcore punk band from Welland, Ontario, at least sonically. Although Marriage was diverse, melodic and driven, its success was built on raw sincerity and a passive-aggressive musical approach, which has carried over into the band's reinvention.

Years (By One Thousand Fingertips) is a blatant departure from the band's previous work. All but abandoning their punk roots, Attack in Black have relayed the pressures of a sophomore album by trading in their "na na na"s, driving beats and gruff melodic temperament for a blend of lo-fi psychedelia and `60s folk-pop. Years was self-recorded in their new basement sudio, using an 8-track, branding their newly found DIY ethic. The album was complete before Dine Alone Records (the band's label) was even aware that they were making one.

The title track, which is the album's opener, is a richly harmonized dip into the earthy classical folk realm, with elements of `60s pop melodies. Classic rock sensibility and melodic hooks are recurrent throughout the album, exemplified by the terrific "Greater Niagara Circle Route," which draws immediate comparisons to fellow Canadian classic rock re-innovators, the Constantines.

Like "Niagara," the subtle sense of urgency, coupled with the layered, textured framework with powerfully heartfelt vocals, is the band's strongest asset for the album's most accomplished songs. The angular and anthemic "Liberties" is the album's most aggressive song, but doesn't come across as contrived or forced; it's a challenging blend of post-punk and traditional rock. The album's closer, "The Surface I Would Travel," has similar dreary vocal meandering of Matthew Good crossed with the ambient soundscape of Radiohead. "(Blood) in the Tracks" is a beautifully crafted spacey indie rock gem. As the song progresses, layer upon layer are added to create a feel of tension offset by the soothing vocals of Daniel Romano, and the subtle driving cohesiveness of the rhythm section.

Attack in Black's multi-faceted songwriting capabilities are in full force. A 16-track record with very few weak moments erased by the overall impact of the album. They have found a unique and effective way to balance the line between innovation and traditionalism, without overcompensating for either. Well done.