Monday, 9 July 2012

Favourite LPs #1 - Alex Bate

At the Drive-In – Relationship of Command (2000)

By Alex Bate

I bought this album after seeing At the Drive-In deliver a blistering version of One Armed Scissor on Jools Holland, then whizz a chair past Robbie Williams’ head when they finished. This performance summed up the feel of the album exactly, a startling combination of noise and energy leaning occasionally towards the unhinged/bat-shit mental.

Opener Arcarsenal slowly builds up before exploding into life, and is followed by one post-hardcore monster after another. Listening to songs like Cosmonaut and Sleepwalk Capsules feel like being driven the wrong way down a motorway, whilst Enfilade and Quarantined are brilliantly edgy slow-burners.

The energy of the songs is backed up by lyrics ranging from the baffling (“Lazarus threw the party, Lazarus threw the fight,” “this syringe will take a lifetime, it’s filled with bait and tackle”) to the powerful – particularly Invalid Litter Dept.’s account of the Ciudad Juarez drug murders. All of this is delivered in Cedric Bixler-Zavala’s inimitable yelp, although Iggy Pop gives a good attempt to mimic it when he turns up on Rolodex Propaganda.

When At the Drive-In broke up after this, their next bands they formed showed what each individual brought to the band, with Bixler-Zavala’s The Mars Volta producing staggeringly creative but frustratingly inconsistent music, whilst Jim Ward’s Sparta were solidly competent almost to the point of boring. However on Relationship of Command they each take their respective Lennon and McCartney roles, with Ward helping to shape Bixler-Zavala’s creativity into something resembling coherent song structures. What this leaves you with is one of the greatest punk records ever written.

Track list:

1. Arcarsenal
2. Pattern Against User
3. One Armed Scissor
4. Sleepwalk Capsules
5. Invalid Litter Dept.
6. Mannequin Republic
7. Enfilade
8. Rolodex Propaganda
9. Quarantined
10. Cosmonaut
11. Non-Zero Possibility
12. Catacombs

Wanna write about your own favourite record? Just holla, yo.

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