Atlas Genius, Through the Glass EP

Atlas Genius, <em>Through the Glass</em> EP

There’s something to Through the Glass, the debut EP from Aussie duo Atlas Genius, that definitely feels like a warning shot, a quick burst to say, “hey, look over here!” It’s good — and yeah, I’ll get back to that, don’t worry — but it feels a little abrupt, maybe a bit incomplete, like the band’s just dangling a little something out there in front to get you listening.

And hey, that works, at least for me. After barely a full listen to lead track “Trojans,” I was thoroughly hooked, rolling along with the tune’s bouncy, Strokes-y groove, my feet frantically tapping along to that bumping, rubbery bassline, those jangly-sharp guitars, and the understated handclaps.

It’s a full-on pop blast, but at the same time it’s almost accusatory, lyrics-wise, with frontman Keith Jeffrey (brother Michael Jeffrey plays the drums), adding a bit of love-gone-wrong venom to the bounce to make the song something that’s fun and poppy and yet also somehow dark and sinister. Which is a damn good trick, all by itself.

The pair stretch out a bit for “Back Seat,” riding a similarly bumping rhythm but keeping things languid and chilled-out. I’m reminded a bit of Miike Snow, but the song’s practically a throwback to the ’80s, with a hint of Hall & Oates’ slick coolness emanating from the speakers (especially with that palm-muted guitar line). “Symptoms,” on the other hand, is urgent and desperate, with a speeding, fast-strummed guitar and a rough edge, not to mention a surprising surge upwards into epic-rock territory.

Atlas Genius close things out by turning down for a second version of “Trojans,” this one just Keith Jeffrey and a guitar, and unlike a lot of multiple-version deals I’ve heard like it, the track’s not a throwaway, not even close; Jeffrey transforms the shiny-sharp pop of the original recording into a song that’s much more delicate and gentle, but still soulful and full regret. It’s reminiscent of a less-frantic Rocky Votolato, with maybe a touch of Paolo Nutini’s old-soul huskiness in Jeffrey’s voice.

And by stripping down the song to its barest bones, the band pulls a second neat trick, believe it or not, demonstrating effortlessly that they really don’t need the amps and electronics to do what they’re doing; it really is about the song, in the end. I’m left wanting to hear more, and hey, I’m in luck, because Atlas Genius’s debut full-length, When It Was Now, will apparently be out on February 19th. Well played, sirs.

[Atlas Genius is playing 2/12/13 at the House of Blues, along with Imagine Dragons & Nico Vega, and again 4/26/13 at Fitzgerald’s, along with The Neighbourhood.]
(Warner Bros. Records --; Atlas Genius --; Atlas Genius (Facebook) --; Atlas Genius (Twitter) --; Atlas Genius (SoundCloud) --
BUY ME: Amazon

Review by . Review posted Tuesday, February 12th, 2013. Filed under Features, Reviews.

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