The Photo Atlas - To Silently Provoke the Ghost (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

The Photo Atlas

To Silently Provoke the Ghost (2009)

Morning After

Dance music this propulsive cannot be denied. On their five-song EP, To Silently Provoke the Ghost, Colorado dance-punk quartet the Photo Atlas succeeds through sheer force of will. The guys keep everything fast and angular and groovy and catchy. It's like if the Faint or theSTART didn't burn themselves out.

Folks get a two-hit combo from "Class of 2012" and "It's Always About the Money." If I had a dollar for every press release I get that bullshits about a band sounding like At the Drive-In, I could give er'rybody free healthcare and be done with it. So believe me when I say that the Photo Atlas really does have a dash of ATDI. Not enough to erase all those bad memories of the Mars Volta and Sparta, or to sell the band as post-hardcore, but guitarists Alan Andrews and Bill Threlkeld III definitely graft some of that band's textures to their dance music. It gives their tunes more cajones. And if Threlkeld (the third, dear chap) told me he could play The Relationship of Command on guitar, I would believe him based on his performance here.

But the band does have a problem -- they only work at a certain tempo. Track three, "Jealous Teeth," is a hair less intense, and thus significantly less awesome. It's like the fast pacing is the lynchpin of the band's whole dynamic. "Jealous Teeth" is slower, and the chorus becomes noticeably less infectious. Not so on "Paper Trail," which adds Cursive-style strings with explosive results. How long the Photo Atlas can maintain this momentum remains to be determined; for now, To Silently Provoke the Ghost is an enticing chapter.