An edited version of this review was published on The Sunday Times of Malta.
If Björk, PJ Harvey and Siouxie Sioux were to have a love child (don’t ask, just go along with it) Walk into Nothing, the latest album from indie punksters Areola Treat, might be the result. There might also be some DNA strains from Mogwai too, because Walk into Nothing turns out to be a very multi-layered affair that defies easy categorisation.
A much-awaited fourth offering – the band has already released one full album, Pleasure Machines, and two EPs – Walk into Nothing is a hypnotic hybrid that brings together rock’n’roll, punk, post-rock and some pop elements into one rather addictive experience.
The album features tight instrumentalisation by Adrian Mizzi (guitarist), Steve Shaw (bass) and Chris Busuttil (drums). Add vocalist Lisa Micallef Grimaud’s somewhat eerie (and I use this as a compliment) voice, and what we have is a worthy showcase of this band’s quirky talents.
The album kicks off with the spectacular percussion sequence that is the intro to Demolition AK, a track that launches the listener straight into sonic heaven – if, that is, explosions of sound are your thing. Since they are very much mine, I count this intro as one of the finest moments in the album. The percussions even out into incessant riffs that don’t let up, with the guitar and bass playing a pivotal role in making this track. The punk element is brought in rather nicely through Micallef Grimaud’s vocals.
The tone changes with A Place that Most Forgot, an evocative track that creates a certain sense of nostalgia, in keeping with its name.This track is all about Micallef Grimaud’s voice – poignant, aggressive, seductive in turns. This is in contrast to the next track, Blood Red Thing, with its recklessly upbeat intro riffs that are now synonymous with this band. Blood Red Thing is the Areola Treat we know and love, a straightforward anthem that is full of joie-de-vivre that, nevertheless, comes with a hidden, vocal Easter egg.
The album continues with the title track, Walk into Nothing, a truly strong track that more than earns its place on the title of the album, and is bound to be a favourite with the band’s audience.
Flies on the Wall is another track that is likely to do well on the dancefloor, despite bringing a darker aura to the mix. This aura is immediately established by the sound of the bass, the rhythmic drums and the vocals, which are almost staccato at some points.
What is probably the darkest track on the album follows – For Constance, a love song of sorts. Which means that we get lyrics like “circle psycho, triple trifle; more than meets the eye, you’re devoured by your splendour”. The vocals bring with them a threatening edge, and the instrumentalisation switches abruptly from low-intensity riff to a frenetic beat…all elements that combine to make this my favourite track.
The track that follows earns full marks for a punny title that will have all pop culture geeks smile. However, Game of Drones is almost an interlude in an album that otherwise presents a very strong identity.
Saint Foy the Broken presents more beautiful percussion-work, while Traction has the makings of another mosh pit anthem, with its energy-driven vocals, distorted refrain and insistent bass. The album continues with Trump the Trump, a track with riotous vocals and instrumentation that the musicians really have fun with.
Finally, the band gives us a triumphant conclusion with Collapse, a vocally-intense track with complex arrangements that clocks in at a lengthy six minutes (and more) but somehow still keeps the listener riveted. A track that’s a musical tour-de-force and that brings a strong album to a strong end.
Walk into Nothing will be launched on February 8 at Chateau Buskett, Buskett. Errormantics and The Violent Violets kick off the event at 10pm.