At the Drive-In – Split EP

At the Drive-In
Split EP

Everything I had heard told me that this would be a great EP. It was touted as At the Drive-In and Sunshine, with At the Drive-In obviously the better known band and thus carrying the promotional duties. But Sunshine, they said, was a popular band from Germany or the Czech Republic (I’ve heard conflicting reports) that played a driving sort of emo/screamo, passionate and intense.
Yeah, what a load of crap all that was.
First of all, Sunshine carry the weight of the album, with three tracks that make up 17 of the 25 minutes. And they don’t sound anything like an emo band. Picture Subpop darlings Vue, of the retro angst-rock variety mixed with extreme amounts of keyboards and a new-wavey sound. “Streamlined” could be a 70’s British rock song mixed with an 80’s new-wave song, the vocals definitely British and dripping with pretentious attitude. As they go into “Dead Electro Mix,” at least they take on a bit more of an industrial quality, which is a bit of an improvement, but this song drones on way too long and too repetitiously. They finish up with “Line Mix,” another repetitive remix that has absolutely no substance. It’s just a new-wave bass-heavy drone with a few samples thrown in and the occasional line of vocals way in the background. Terrible.
So finally, At the Drive-In, whose new album, now to be released on Grand Royal, is much anticipated. This band plays a style of aggressive hardcore that’s not too hard but plenty ‘core, with vocals on the edge of losing control entirely, and “Extracurricular” lives up to their earlier work without sounding new or different. That’s reassuring, at least, because this song rocks. It sounds loose, however, and rough, as if the band just kind of threw it off. Still, it’s aggressive and fast, with shouted vocals and some great guitar. But what the hell is up with the next track, “Autorelocator?” This song is a 5-minute electronic mix, basically, with a synthesized beat, odd vocal loops in the background, and no meat, no substance. It’s as if the band was experimenting but didn’t try hard enough.
My guess is Big Wheel Recreation is trying to capitalize on At the Drive-In’s fame with this one, while their real motivation is to get Sunshine out to the masses. Sunshine carry most of the weight here, even if their songs are trite and underwhelming. With no cover art, all of the songs are printed below the CD holder, and At the Drive-In’s songs are hidden beneath the little nub in the center. Why bother putting At the Drive-In on here at all? For one good song? It’s definitely not worth it. Save your money and get some dupe like me to tape you “Extracurricular,” because the rest of this release is pure crap.