page 1&4Certain bands just sound loud. My Bloody Valentine may be the official “Worlds Loudest Band”, but on record they don’t sound it. A Place to Bury Strangers, however, are deafening. Even played at quiet volumes the psychedelic noise contained on Exploding Head completely fills a room, threatening to completely enwrap the listeners within its coils. I suppose sounding loud isn’t a particularly difficult task, and one that A Place To Bury Strangers have achieved simply by distorting their sound so that the listener can’t really distinguish the components of the music from each other. I therefore must make it clear that A Place to Bury Strangers are not impressive purely because of the racket they seem capable of making. There is genuinely some song writing talent contained within Exploding Head.Exploding Head is, in fact, less aggressively loud than APTBS first, self titled debut record. They seem to have taken a slight step back. The music is still a barrage of pace and noise, and it never quite sheds the constant, and uniform pace that APTBS seem to play at all the time. But at times Exploding Head seems slightly more contemplative than its predecessor. There’s a less raw and abrasive noise, and it seems to be edging closer to being genuinely pleasant. That’s not to say that APTBS have gone all Slowdive on us, they’re still the noise merchants they always were, and Exploding Head is a powerful record.In looking for songs to demonstrate the song writing talent I had previously alluded to, I was somewhat unsuccessful. That’s not because there’s a lack of any good songs on this album, its jam packed with good material, it’s just that during its 40 minutes the songs become somewhat indistinguishable from each other. APTBS have a formulaic approach to noise rock, and while I admit there is a lack of options in creating loud noises, Exploding Head lacks the variety that the first album had. 'Ego Death', 'Dead Beat', 'Smile When you Smile' and 'Exploding Head' are all good, and notable, songs but they're not really better than anything else on the album. This record is remarkably consistent, there’s not a clunker on there, but at times it does lacks that real killer edge to make it an exceptional album.But then, APTBS have a formula that works. Because they are capable of making a good set of songs, and in the end you don’t really mind that it all sounds pretty much the same. But despite all the good things I’ve said about Exploding Head, I can’t give it a coveted TLOBF recommends tag, it lacks enough flair to really make it stand out from the crowd, and will remain a highly competent, enjoyable but not brilliant album.A Place To Bury Strangers on MyspaceCatch APTBS at The Portland Arms in Cambridge as part of a TLOBF Gig Night. Details here.