Last Friday, The Airborne Toxic Event got all of us very excited when they announced an official February 24th release date of the band’s fourth studio album, Dope Machines. The album consists of ten songs, including the band’s late-2014 single, “Wrong,” which premiered across several hit-maker radio stations in October and finds the band exploring new songs that just may put them back in the indie spotlight.
Watch: “Wrong” – The Airborne Toxic Event
TATE (as they’re called familiarly) have been making a name for themselves around the world since their self-titled debut in 2008, which featured the hit song “Sometime Around Midnight” along with 14 other rock classics (check out “Something New,” “Wishing Well” and “Happiness is Overrated” for a good time). The past seven years have seen two more album releases with 2011’s All At Once and 2013’s Such Hot Blood, as well as an extremely intense tour schedule that has brought The Airborne Toxic Event around the world, and back again.
I had the pleasure of catching the band play at Boston’s House of Blues in May 2011, at Boston Calling in September 2013 and at New York City’s Terminal 5 in October 2014. I consider both shows to feature spine-tingling sets comparable to the biggest rock acts of our time, but the most recent show was particularly impressive. Even lead singer Mikel Jollett thought so – toward the end of the loud night, after recovering from moshing with the crowd to “Does This Mean You’re Moving On?”, the TATE frontman noted, “This might be the best show we’ve ever played in New York City.” And then, a full band drum solo.
October’s Terminal 5 show found the band playing seven (7) songs from their debut album, six (6) from All At Once, one (1) from Such Hot Blood, and three (3) from the upcoming Dope Machines. Whereas their first two records fared considerably well among fans and critics alike, TATE’s third album seemed to come and go without much ado. The ballad-heavy album was deep and introspective, but lacking in the catchy hooks of the band’s prior efforts.
It is not a far stretch to argue that TATE have maintained relevance over these past four years off the content of their first two albums. It’s time for a change, and from what we can tell so far, that is what you can expect from Dope Machines. “Wrong” finds the band incorporating dark indie pop elements into their repertoire. “Chains,” the band’s most recent single off Dope Machines (the track premiered on VH1 on January 19), is a dark tune that mixes the band’s signature juxtaposition of quiet, slowly built-up verses with loud, explosive choruses with electro-indie synths and a stylistically pop (rather than rock) layering.
The Airborne Toxic Event are adored by thousands of fans who clap, stomp their feat, and scream for the band’s heavy rock songs and heartfelt acoustic ballads. The band’s newest music finds them toying more and more with electronic music, and it looks as though TATE are setting up to dive in head-first to the indie scene’s most “happening” territory. We can only hope the band remembers its roots while taking the plunge, but if “Chains” is any indication, it doesn’t seem like that will be an issue.
When we first started this band, we didn’t know what we were starting or how long it would last—just that we felt it in our bones that we needed to start… something. We still do.
– The Airborne Toxic Event press release | January 16, 2015
TATE is already a must-see rock act – if the music doesn’t sell itself, consider the action-packed performance put on by Jollett night after night: After scaling Terminal 5’s upper mezzanine bannister during “Something New” last October, the singer found himself precariously perched on the mezzanine’s railing. Laughing, he leveled with the awe-stricken crowd and his band below: “This feels dangerous… hey you guys, start ‘Hell and Back’!” This act prompted the venue’s critical security guard – a man who has seen hundreds, if not thousands of hugely successful artists play on that New York stage, and who had already said to me how “they all sound alike” – to admit to me, “Yeah I’d (probably) pay money to see them.”
Case and point: If Dope Machines is anything like its singles, then this album is going to be the timely electro/indie/rock crossover that The Airborne Toxic Event need. We can’t wait for February 24th!
tracklist (source: theairbornetoxicevent.com)
Listen: “Chains” – The Airborne Toxic Event