Attack In Black – [Album]

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Some bands are just unable to hide when they haven't figured out how to articulate that thing which has captured their imagination and, as good as a record might be, the band simply sees it as another stepping stone in a vast work in progress. Don't get the wrong idea, that's not a slight or indictment, only an observation that, since first appearing from the asshes of hardcore staples Day And A Deathwish and In These Walls,  Attack In Black has jumped from loose and fairly shambolic hardcore ear bleeders on their Skate Ahead debut to scruffy, indie rock-informed punk (2007's Marriage) to what sounds an awful like good old fashioned coffeehouse-bent college folk in just three full-length albums and one online release.

Even with that track record in mind though, the odds of anyone having the foresight to expect a record like Years (By One Thousand Fingertips) are so far removed as to be totally non-existent. As the title track unfolds to open the album, Attack In Black make it clear that any bets their fans might have had on what to expect of the band are either off or made by suckers; this time Attack In Black has made a classically minded folk record. Gone are any semblance of the sarcasm, irony or punk-leaning sonic references that drove and functioned as the hooks for the band's previous efforts and, in their place, the vapor trails of every revered Canadian musical act – from Neil Young (both with Crazy Horse and without) to The Tragically Hip to Raising The Fawn to The Constantines as well as every side project associated with that band – waft through the spaces in these sixteen songs and leave a little of their essence on these proceedings and further enrich a set that is – without question – singer Dan Romano's finest hour to date as both a singer and a songwriter.

Abandoning the snide and snotty vocal styling that won Attack In Black their fan base on songs like “Young Leaves” a couple of years ago, Romano joins his bandmates on the back porch for an acoustic set that turns textural and multi-faceted when you really listen. The sweetness of these acoustic ballads is, of course, at the forefront of songs like “Birmingham,” “Liberties,” “Beasts” and “Seeds” but that laid back beauty is all on the face of the songs; snaking around the edges  and waiting in the wings of each mix are Spencer Burton's fuzzy, scuzzy and salacious guitars that don't taunt or tease the audience with anything exactly, but do entrance listeners when they steal away to center stage. The interplay between Burton's guitar and Romano's ever-more-melodic vocals combined with the tasteful and reserved “Two Ians” rhythm section (Ian Kehoe on bass and Dan's brother Ian Romano on drums) construct and fill out just about the most salubrious performance that anyone's heard from a modern rock band recently and will make a fan out of everyone that hears it – even those of the belief that it's impossible for a bunch of punks to make something this heartfelt and still sound genuine.

So it's established that Years (By One Thousand Fingertips) is a great, revelatory record that further expands the breadth of sounds at Attack In Black's disposal and further exposes their significant ability as songwriters, but will the band remain in this creative province for more than one record? If Attack In Black's prior track record for changing styles at the drop of a dime means anything, the easy answer is 'probably not' but that's not something to lament. Each successive release from this band has yielded successively better results so fans can only hope that, whatever it is that Attack In Black is searching for, they never find it but keep trying.


Attack In Black Online

Attack In Black myspace
Attack In Black on Facebook


Years (By One Thousand Fingertips)
comes out on Dine Alone Records on March 17th. Pre-order it now on Amazon .

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