The Airborne Toxic Event, 'The Airborne Toxic Event'
Literary rockers set angst-filled debut for stun
Special to Metromix
Backstory: Named for an environmental disaster from Don DeLillo's classic novel "White Noise," the Airborne Toxic Event has emerged from its L.A. breeding ground to evoke the bombast of yesteryear's Springsteen as well as today's jittery post-punkers like Franz Ferdinand. A maelstrom of manic guitars and angst-ridden vocals from the deep corners of Mikel Jollett's lovelorn heart, the SoCal fixture's self-titled debut is fitting closure for a band that has weathered the last few years gaining momentum.
Why you should care: Jollett's poetic odes to contemporary urban romance comfort you with familiarity, but end up taking you somewhere different than the top 40 charts. And he's got the literary chops to take you further: his short story "The Crack" will be published by Dave Egger's fiction tastemaker McSweeney's.
Verdict: From the jagged axe and disillusioned narrative of the opener "Wishing Well" to the final epic confessional "Innocence," whose mournful violin caps a thematic sadness that can't be erased, the Airborne Toxic Event's first effort is sometimes literally a string-puller. Jollett has been through some tough times—he's been diagnosed with an autoimmune disease and his mother with cancer—and it shows in every song. But he's kept the proceedings far from despondent: the churning surf riffs and screams of "Papillon" and thunderous backbeat of "Does This Mean You're Moving On?" are noisy anthems suitably turned up to 11.
X-Factor: Jollett has written for more than McSweeney's. His work has turned up in places as different as National Public Radio, the Los Angeles Times and Men’s Health.
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