Album Review: XL427 – Thee Attack

Ohio space-rock group XL427 welcomed in the new year with a haunting sophomore record release: Thee Attack, out January 3, 2020, on Poptek Records, features nine spacey rock tracks packed chock-full of shoegaze and melancholy.

thee attack.jpgThee Attack arrives over a decade after XL427’s debut; the group’s first album, Yesterdays Forever, was released in 2009, and between the two records, lead singer and frontman Andy Ingram was diagnosed with and survived West Nile Virus. Both the time and illness have impacted his music.

“Sad songs make me happy, but beyond that, getting sick changes your perspective on a lot of life,” Ingram said. “All but one of these songs are borne of that struggle, though I still try to write really catchy choruses.”

That struggle is evident, whether intentionally or unintentionally, in the nine tracks comprising Thee Attack: though Ingram’s vocals and Ingram, Mike Rutschte and Gigi Palassis’ guitars are largely melodic throughout the album, and though Dan Stahl’s drums are crisp, there is often dissonance between the instruments. And at times on “The (Surprise) Party,” the first track on the album, the instruments seem out of sync entirely.

Yet there is still something magnetic about the record. Ingram’s vocals echo throughout most of the tracks, creating a haunting effect, and the aforementioned dissonance often works in the band’s favor to heighten the eeriness of the album (“The Covenant”). The band also utilizes a punky sound to inject a healthy attitude into the music, ensuring their music does not become lifeless in its melancholy (“Ideas,” “NASA Arizona”). Finally, there are some tracks on which the guitars feel grungy and distorted, combining with dry vocals to breed a wave of vicious anger and bitterness that feels tangible (“Sunlight+Water”).

So though the music feels, at times, disjointed, Thee Attack is a surprisingly vibrant record, even in its spacey shoegaze and pensive sadness.

Photo courtesy of Nikki Stargel.

Thee Attack is a wonderfully spacey album; though at times feeling briefly dry and uncoordinated, the record is also eerily haunting as Ingram and his band move through nine darkly melodic tracks. The record is available on streaming services, but listen to and purchase Thee Attack via XL427’s Bandcamp page below.

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