Album: The Airborne Toxic Event, The Airborne Toxic Event (Majordomo)

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The Independent Culture

The Airborne Toxic Event have received extensive comparisons to Arcade Fire and The Strokes, the result of their careful blending of indie-rock sensibilities, self-consciously literate lyrics and sawing string arrangements.

Both assessments are justified, but those are two fairly ubiquitous reference points in the triangulation of most new American indie outfits (with Fleet Foxes occupying the other point). What comes across more strongly on "Papillon", "This Is Nowhere" and "Wishing Well", though, is the general air of fanciful dissolution, contemporary anomie and youthful ennui explored in detail by The Hold Steady. "Wishing Well" is what Bruce Springsteen would have sounded like if he'd grown up a Goth rather than a Greaser: the intense romanticism of wasted youth and the bittersweet tang of amorous betrayal elevated to poetic principles, but lacking the well-rooted, parochial sensibility provided by a Noo Joisey upbringing. That lack is probably what prevents this debut from being a great album, rather than a promising one: despite the almost solipsistic self-centredness sometimes involved, the milieu depicted in singer Mikel Jollett's narratives is ultimately too vague to convey the authentic ring of truth.

Pick of the album:'Wishing Well', 'Papillon', 'Sometime Around Midnight', 'Gasoline'

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