Can you remember where you were and what you were doing when you first heard a band?
When I first heard Sometime Around Midnight by The Airborne Toxic Event (TATE), I was driving home from work, and felt exhausted and fed up. Fearne Cotton played it on her radio show, and, instantly exhilarated, I had to stay in the car until the song ended and could find out who this band was.
For me, the entire eponymous debut album was equally as exciting, and so I had high hopes for their second release, All At Once.
The album begins with the title track. Starting slowly and rising to a crescendo, this is possibly what could be described as “typical” TATE – certainly a style comparable to Sometime Around Midnight. It pulls you in, makes you tap your feet and nod your head. A great start.
Numb begins in a similar fashion… initially disappointed by this (an album where all songs are the same would be pointless, no?), it quickly changes pace to incorporate a catchy guitar riff, and lyrics I think we can all identify with.
Next comes Changing, an extremely catchy tune – this is single material. It would be very popular with the masses, I think.
All For A Woman and It Doesn’t Mean A Thing are, for me, the two weakest songs on the album. Sadly not their best work, and, for me, the latter even verges on being irritating.
The next two songs work well together, and it is obvious that they have been placed in this order deliberately – The Kids Are Ready To Die leads directly into Welcome To Your Wedding Day. Both political statements, seemingly about subjects close to Jollett’s heart – war and Afghanistan, each song takes a step aside from the band’s usual style, which is refreshing and interesting.
Half Of Something Else is a song with an uplifting tune, lovely harmonies from Anna, and a drum beat from Daren that carries the whole thing through to its calming end.
If you’re a fan of The Cure, you will recognise what Jollett sings about in Strange Girl… “it was an old song, from Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me that she sang”. A melodic vocal detracts from the somewhat dull music. This could have been a lot more interesting.
All I Ever Wanted could be described as anthemic, if only it was a little stronger. A little more punchy, and this would be a great song.
The album ends with The Graveyard Near The House, an acoustic track. It is a reflection on love and how it’s all worthwhile: “It’s better to love, whether you win or lose or die” is a beautiful sentiment. Backed up by a lovely melody incorporating strings and keyboards, this really works. A stunning end to the album.
All in all, I would recommend buying this album – you may just want to skip a couple of tracks after the first listen, and I wouldn’t blame you for that!
The Airborne Toxic Event are: Mikel Jollett (vocals & rhythm guitar), Steven Chen (lead guitar & keyboards), Anna Bulbrook (viola, keyboards & vocals), Daren Taylor (drums) & Noah Harmon (bass guitar).