The Atomic Missiles – Flying for Victory

The Atomic Missiles
Flying for Victory

Somewhere in New Jersey at this very moment, four young men employing the monikers Sean Korman, Jasper Sessions, Nick Phury, and Kotar are almost certainly busy hatching new ideas for their band, the Atomic Missiles. Sure, establishment types would probably remark that they should be practicing their instruments, but that’s a lot less fun than inventing a mythology for your band, coming up with bitchin’ stage names, and poring over the best records put out during the 60s and 70s. Throughout their self-released Flying For Victory, images such as these flow out of the speakers as surely as the rudimentary guitar-and-drums sounds that they bash out with enough dedication and sincerity to make up for any familiarity they might have.

As you might guess from the preceding paragraph, the Atomic Missiles are geeky and insular, all nervous energy and veiled intelligence. Like the inimitable Undertones, they seem to be smarter than their lyrics, which are comprised largely of enjoyable nonsense. For example, “The Beekeeper” requires little more explanation than the oft-repeated mantra that the singer is the beekeeper, but it crashes through stupidity into a kind of minimalist cleverness that summarizes the best qualities of the band. They also rock decently hard but with enough good humor and imagination to eschew sounding ham-fisted, a truly wonderful attribute in days when lazy bombast occupies a huge chunk of radio frequencies.

Since a good, balanced review must also include a run-down of what’s bad about a band, let’s get critical. Strike one against the Atomic Missiles is for all the times they indulge themselves in tuneless grinding. The musical value of such sonic blasts rates awfully close to nil, but they do it rarely enough that it doesn’t disqualify them for any prizes. Strike two is more complicated. Due to their idiosyncrasies, the Missiles seem to be implying a certain disregard for their audience. Flying For Victory often gives off the impression of being a party for the band rather than its listeners. A handful of songs sound like they were much more fun to play than to listen to, and the more this characteristic exerts itself, the more difficult it is to make a connection with the music on display.

Then again, is this album’s sense of being a private world such a bad thing? After all, many of the most beloved records of all time sound equally cut off from the rest of mankind. If Flying For Victory sounds like the product of four sweaty boys squirreled away in their basement, so too does Sgt. Pepper sound like four rich men luxuriating in a gadget-filled studio. The key to both of their successes (vastly different levels of success, I must add) is how they have much to reveal once their borders have been crossed. Flying For Victory is anything but confessional, but it is very personal. The environment it creates, no matter how walled off, is full of convincing detail, and the ones who make it inside, no matter how few, will find plenty to explore. And with no third strike, it’s safe to say that the Missiles have gotten on base with this one.