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Album #136: The Airborne Toxic Event – Hollywood Park

  • Released: 2020
  • Origin: Los Angeles, California, USA
  • Label: Rounder
  • Best Track: Carry Me

Blimey! Do the Airborne Toxic Event always sound like this? They’re one of those bands where I thought I had a vague idea of what they sounded like, and I think I might even have seen them at a festival, but I had them down as a straight-up rock or at a push post-rock band. They’ve either changed dramatically or, more likely, they’ve always been a bit like this and I’m just babbling and confused.

On the band’s sixth album Hollywood Park, it becomes apparent from the opener and title track that we should expect something of a Meat Loaf-style rock opera. As it turns out, the theatrics and storytelling are toned down a little from that point, but it remains a grandiose and varied album with a narrative, even if it’s not one I can quite piece together yet.

It’s the band’s first album in five years, and frontman Mikel Jollett says all that time has basically got into working on this one. It sounds like it, to be honest – it’s an ambitious, diverse and well-produced record. Is it my bag, though? I’m not sure it is. I’ll pick out the sea-shanty aura and yell-along chorus of ‘Carry Me’ as the standout track.

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