The Airborne Toxic Event is one of the more misleading names in the music business. Anyone expecting a punk band or a speed metal outfit will be disappointed. An unbiased listener however, will not be disappointed. The band’s second release, “All At Once,” is a winner.
The group’s genre falls somewhere between folk and rock. Acoustic guitars are prominent, and the band uses an upright bass as opposed to the usual bass guitar. Most impressive is violin player, Anna Bulbrook. Using strings in folk isn’t a new idea, but often the sound comes off as gimmicky. Bulbrook’s playing fits right in with the rest of the band. Also adding to the folk argument are the vocals of singer/guitarist Mikel Jollett, who often resembles fellow folkie Langhorne Slim.
The group can get riled up enough to earn itself a spot under the ever ambiguous “indie rock” moniker however. “Welcome to Your Wedding Day” is a march, equal parts dark and fun. “It Doesn’t Mean A Thing” uses the same attitude, keeping things upbeat and cynical simultaneously.
On the other hand, the group can also go to places that are strictly depressing. “The Kids Are Ready To Die” lives up to its morbid title. What all of the songs have in common regardless of mood is that Jollett delivers every line with the same honesty and passion. Whether the tracks reflect on Jollett’s actual life is irrelevant. It’s tough to fake sincerity.
The only thing that hurts this band, at least from a sales perspective, is that there isn’t a clear single. That being said, every song is structurally sound on its own, but it doesn’t hurt to have that one song to hook new listeners.
Single or not, this is solid album. Like I said, none of the tracks on this album hurt its cause.