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At The Drive-In - Diamante EP (Album Review)

Friday, 01 December 2017 Written by Alec Chillingworth

At The Drive-In are stuck. In the year 2000, they released one of the greatest albums ever made: ‘Relationship of Command’. Seventeen years later, they followed it up with ‘In•ter a•li•a’: a bloated, embarrassing mid-life crisis of a record that failed to capture the bliss of youth. Its follow up, ‘Diamante’, offers some respite, albeit in small doses.

Initially, though, it seems like At The Drive-In have learned nothing from their recent musical car crash and are hell-bent on smashing into another brick wall. This three-track EP begins with Amid Ethics, where Cedric Bixler-Zavala swoops in like Jello Biafra on a strict diet of helium, intent on repeating the wackiness, the intricacies of his golden years. He doesn’t. It’s painful. It’s strange. It’s annoying. It breaks the bones of what could be a decent song.

Its rusty, plug-in-and-play punk rumble suits the band well in 2017, harking back to their early records by way of raw gruffness. It’s wilfully messy, but Omar Rodríguez-López​ and Keeley Davis trade guitar blips and occasional runs down the fretboard.

It works. It’s not ground-breaking, but it beats their attempts to ape former guitarist Jim Ward’s style of playing on ‘In•ter a•li•a’.

Despondent at High Noon fills the EP’s middle, branching out into an almost-psychedelic blast of guitars as Bixler-Zavala’s “If only, if only” line wriggles its way into your brain. It’s bizarrely laid-back, riding on a meaty bassline and distancing itself from the explosive, caustic post-hardcore At The Drive-In are famed for. It’s catchy. Fun, even.

And finally, Point Of Demarkation has Bixler-Zavala singing. Not trying to best Mike Patton in the silly stakes – actually singing. Crooning, wailing and holding a note. The sinister piano in the background, the dancy, trippy drums in the song’s initial throes…it’s not just good. It’s interesting. At The Drive-In can’t best their former glories, and Point Of Demarkation doesn’t try. It does something else entirely.

At The Drive-In used to be this odd little band and ‘Diamante’ shows glimpses of that. Pretend that Amid Ethics doesn’t exist, and you’ve got yourself a couple of eclectic numbers that warrant repeat listens. They’re not pushing boundaries, but nudging them. It shows there can be a proper creative future for this band, rather than just trawling through the dregs of their discography.

At The Drive In Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Fri March 09 2018 - LONDON O2 Academy Brixton
Sat March 10 2018 - NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE O2 Academy Newcastle
Mon March 12 2018 - BIRMINGHAM O2 Academy Birmingham
Tue March 13 2018 - MANCHESTER O2 Apollo
Thu March 15 2018 - GLASGOW O2 Academy Glasgow

Click here to compare & buy At The Drive In Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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