Apparently, according to the press release I received, Missouri-based The North Atlantic was born on the same day as I was: October 15th. But I am not so sure that this album heralds as glorious an arrival as I did some two-odd decades ago. I came out two weeks early and was no bigger than an adult hand, so when I say glorious, I am being totally sarcastic.
Wires in the Walls is the group’s first label release and explores the sounds of “New York post-punk, Chicago noise rock and San Diego punk.” Now, since I am not exactly a past present or future sommelier of punk music, I take this interpretation with a grain of un-educated salt. I can only offer up what I hear: Feisty and strongly worded lyrics, courtesy of vocalist Jason Hendrix, combined with mashed up punk guitar do indeed create a sound akin to what is described.
Yet inevitably in between mildly catchy woo-ooos and repeating hooks, I grow weary of the stagnation of modern rock’s punk evolution. The band does, contrarily wise, make good use of silence gaps, harmonics and other sonic variations that make this album tolerable. The low point is in the middle of the track “Scientist Girl,” when Hendrix sings, “I’d rather to listen to my Clash records all night/ Than be with you.” This is most definitely a line that does not roll off the tongue and is for some reason repeated five times in a row.
The high point is the almost Cure-sounding “Bottom of this Town,” which evokes an entirely enjoyable nostalgia for `80s music, while simultaneously ripping into So-Cal nouveau vocals…the kind you hear on primetime teen dramas such as the O.C. and Laguna Beach. Not that I have ever seen either of those shows, of course, and would be so much as even interested. Okay I admit it; I got completely sucked into Laguna Beach for about four hours once!