A Place to Bury Strangers Transfixiation might not explode with the same level of bombast as the band’s earlier work, but there is a level of maturity in it. With each album, the band expands their sound, this time what they have added is more melody and focus on nuanced songwriting. The Wire’s influence is much more noticeable. You can’t say the have scaled back on the noisier aspects of their sound they have just put them in different places. The emphasis seems to be on vocals which are the area of the most evident growth, aside from a level of restraint most people would take for granted. The bass groove to “Straight” carries more of a Firehose churn than what you might expect from this band. However, “Love High” is a slightly more shoegaze-y take on what the band does best, and is the first song that sounds like their older material. This is not the only dip into shoegazing the band embarks upon. “What we Don’t See” is upbeat to the point of being as poppy as this band gets, yet the song is coated in wavering effects not unlike My Bloody Valentine, and is very prominent when it comes to their guitar tone. The guitar tone and vocals benefit the most from the tighter production. The effects never come across as wavering out of control. Ever ounce of re-verb seems to be dialed in with the keenest of intentions.
They dip into a delightful darkness on “Deeper,” a song that earns it’s name on a variety of levels, from the vocals dramatic drop into a spectral baritone to the almost dirge-like mood that eventually builds into a cacophonous slink. They return to something closer to their classic sound on “We’ve Come So Far.” They show they have not forgotten how to kick into a much more sonic attack mode. Having seen this band live, I can only imagine how loud this would be blared onstage. It takes a song with the almost 90’s slacker ambiance of “Now It’s Over” to provide the dynamic springboard for a post-punk rocker like “I’m So Clean” to rattle you most effectively in it’s feedback laced spasms. The band drifts back into darker waters on “Fill the Void,” with the guitar getting up in your face like you would normally expect from these guys. The punk elements are left unchecked and become even more rabid on the hyper-fuzz of “I Will Die.” The vocals don’t hold the post-punk monotone chant quality instead they are howled in more of an Iggy Pop manner. Fans of the band should be use to the ever evolving element each album brings and most of the changes seem like a natural progression from where this band has come from. Some of the songs breeze by you, and then some grab you by the throat. Overall, I think it is fair to say this album is closer to “Worship” than “Exploding Head”.