It’s admirable how blatantly the guys in A Place to Bury Strangersstill wear their influences on their noise-soaked sleeves. Sure, you may think that, by now—three albums and a kajillion EPs after their first releases in 2006—the band should be well beyond their Mary Chain-aping days, and, to be fair, the first notes of Worship don’t sound so much like the Reid Bros.
No, “Alone” starts off the third APTBS album by sounding like electro-goth-gazers Curve … covering a Jesus and Mary Chain song. To be clear: This is not a bad thing. The world could use a hundred more bands mining the abrasive, feedback-drenched aspects of the ‘90s shoegaze sound, instead of the more diaphanous, dreampop approach that has enraptured so many current bands. And Worship is defiantly abrasive, trafficking in squealing, drill-to-the-brainpan noise-rock that owes more to the Mary Chain’s explosive, aggressive live posture than to their more stylized recorded material.
APTBS’ strength has always been in its live show, and cuts like “Revenge” and “Mind Control” reflect the full-bodied sonic violence of one of their concerts; unlike most bands whose studio efforts meticulously scrape away the dirt and noise of the stage, it seems that APTBS just keeps piling it on, and Worship actually sounds louder and rougher than their previous full-length albums. It’s exactly the opposite of progress, and it’s perfectly in keeping with the band’s apology-free existence.
There are moments—many of them, actually—on Worship that will send casual listeners reaching for the stop button (or simply plugging their ears), and those are moments that lesser bands would have gladly erased in favor of amplifying the more melodic and rhythmically enthralling segments here. But APTBS seems to instinctively understand that it’s possible (if not preferable) to deliver effective and gut-punching rock ‘n’ roll underneath a patina of shrill, buzzing noise, and by doubling down on that approach, they’ve made one of the most counterintuitively accessible albums of the year.