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Album Review: IN-TER A-LI-A by At The Drive In

At The Drive In release their long awaited new album IN-TER A-LI-A on 5th May, via Rise Records. The bands fourth studio album and follow up to 2000’s Relationship of Command, sees the band staying true to their sound.

“We still get in the room and feel like it’s the first day,” admits Tony Hajjar [drums]. “When we get together, there’s this uneasiness, excitement, and youthful joy.  We used everything we learned over the years, but we remembered that this is At The Drive In. When it came to this band, we always likened it to a gang. That’s how we lived. To this day, I still feel that us against the world mentality. It works for us in the chemical equation. For all intents and purposes, we started in a garage. We played all of the basements we could, and we moved up to kitchens. We’re still that band in our heads.”

“It was about getting back to that primordial self,” adds Cedric Bixler [vocals]. “We essentially agreed, ‘We need to honour the last record. We need to go forward, be the fucking core of what we are, and ignore everything we learned in our years apart.’ It was a great lesson in communication. We wanted to honour the fan base and the frame of mind of being young. Most of us have children. It’s very easy for me to access that wonder where there really shouldn’t be any rules.”

It feels like At The Drive In haven’t been away, it’s as if there 2001 hiatus never happened. The clock has been reset and the band sound as they did 16 years ago. The album title, Latin for ‘Among other things,’ proves utterly apropos. “It’s a snapshot of life right now and the inevitability of where we might be headed,” Cedric explains. “It reminds me of the last scene in Chinatown where Jack Nicholson is told, ‘It’s Chinatown,’ as an explanation for the fucked-up nature of things. You can’t do shit about it. I don’t think it points a finger at any one source or cause. If anything, it points the finger at the person holding the record and says, ‘What are you going to do.’ Maybe we should stop focusing on the funeral march and start focusing on the younger generation. The problem is buried within layers of red tape and small print, but we don’t have to repeat it.”

IN-TER A-LI-A is full of the cathartic punk rebellion that became At The Drive In’s main selling point. The anti-government ‘fuck you’ is there in abundance through opener ‘No Wolf Like The Present’, ‘Governed by Contagions’ and ‘Pendulum In A Peasant Dress’. All three throb and burn with that simmering punk, but you’ve got to feel that there’s something missing.

The world has moved on since 2001, but it seems At The Drive In haven’t. Sure, there’s some good tracks on the album, but there’s nothing special. It feels like you’re listening to a castrated At The Drive In, it doesn’t have the punch or impact anymore. The harsh opinion would be that this is a band dinning out on past success and trying (and failing) to recapture their sound of 16 years ago.

‘Incurably Innocent’ and sprawling intensity of closer ‘Hostage Stamps’ make for thrilling listens, but the doesn’t make up for the disappointment of the rest of the album. Sometimes things are best left alone.

AD Rating 6/10

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2 Comments on Album Review: IN-TER A-LI-A by At The Drive In

  1. Ive got to agree with you. Im on my fourth or fifth time through on the album and im trying desperately to fall in love with it. For me it does not have the complexity and range of musicianship and emotions shown on the previous album. It also sounds a bit samey and is difficult to distinguish individual tracks by yheir guitar riff like you can on In Casino Out.

    Liked by 1 person

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