Published Apr 09, 2018Oliver Ackermann is as much a facilitator as he is a frontman. Four albums and a fearsome live show have enshrined his band, A Place to Bury Strangers, as Brooklyn noise rock royalty, but he's also had a substantial impact on that city's DIY scene. Between founding the guitar effects company Death By Audio and operating a venue/work space out of its warehouse for seven years, Ackermann has helped countless bands find their sounds.
Unfortunately, he can't provide the same service on his own band's fifth album. Pinned finds A Place to Bury Strangers calling back to their influences through references to Suicide's spectral beats ("Look Me in the Eye"), New Order's lively rhythm section ("Frustrated Operator") or the Jesus and Mary Chain's bursts of feedback ("Attitude"). They avoid mere imitation, but a sense of aimlessness still floats through the record.
A monotonous mood is mostly to blame. Gloom pervades these 12 tracks, and the band don't leaven it with the dynamic shifts of previous albums. The clean guitar and rolling beat on "Was It Electric" offer a melancholic respite, and new drummer Lia Simone Braswell injects some vigour into the last third of the record, but the trio's sparse sound is stretched thin over a 40-minute runtime. Ackermann may be a man of many talents, but they're not applied evenly on Pinned. (Dead Oceans)