This ‘Atom Age’ article was written by Sam Morrell, a GIGsoup contributor
In a pot blend together The Hives, Gallows, The Animals, and add a saxophone. The resulting broth you’re served is ‘The Atom Age’s’ ‘Hot Shame’, (If you’re at work, Google the album title at your job’s own risk), the follow up to 2012’s ‘The Hottest Thing That’s Cool’, an eleven track riot that wouldn’t be out of place in the stereo of a heist getaway car, tearing down a highway with a blazing myriad of red and blue lights chasing it down. But while the new release has its moments, have the sirens levelled off, the dust-cloud settled, and the adrenaline boiled a little bit dry ?
Starting us off is ‘It’s a Mess’, a clap-happy opening track that can, and will, pull you into the rest of the album. It’s a jolly punk tune, and with some funky psychedelic organ notes thrown strategically into the mix. It makes for a corker of an opening track. The titular track ‘Hot Shame’, a brief and electrifying romp, perfectly suited to its namesake, seems to open up the band’s mentality a little into the whole album’s construct, some grooving, crunching guitar, addictive lyrics, and more of that sweet 60s garage organ. ‘Barracuda’ is doubtlessly my favourite track. Beginning with some dancing keys that could well be hoisted from a Halloween party CD. The song has an air of creepiness hanging over it, and it makes for a welcome alteration of style early in an album that veers somewhat into the monotonous toward its conclusion.
‘Ms. Death Texas’ is a song that can legally only be listened to whilst jumping a flaming mariachi band from Hades on a Harley, under the wailing moonlight. It’s fast, it’s explosive, and it’s just short enough that you can’t help but glue it on repeat. Well placed near the middle of Hot Shame. The next track, ‘Do It Now’, polarised me. There’s another solid track here, and the breakdown near the end, with its bouncy, rolling snare, and jazzy bass and organ, really had me drumming holes in my desk, the constant “Oo-ooo’s” could well be toned down a little as they smack too much of genericity. If it wasn’t for the shouting vocals, this could have easily been anyone’s song in my opinion. Unfortunately, ‘Negative Mind’ rang a sound too similarly to its predecessor. Another victim of the “Oo-ooo’s” in the backing vocals, there just isn’t enough going on here for it to keep the momentum promised to the listener earlier in the album.
Tracks with a slower tempo are always welcomed, but when your album has a sound like this, something more unique needs to be added to make those slower tracks stand taller than their more thunderous brethren. Think ‘Vermillion’ with Slipknot, ‘Riot Van’ for Arctic Monkeys, even ‘Express Yourself’ for N.W.A.
Calmer tracks that have a different sound to the rest of the album, and as a result become more memorable. Qualms aside, ‘Here Them Scream’ kisses your ears with a fist and drags you moshing and screaming back to the party. Just as with ‘Ms. Death Texas’ The Atom
Age showcase their power for blending raging, screaming, punk bangers with sweet blues and garage rock. ‘
Wild Worry’ is the most popular track of the album on Spotify, and rightly so. Where ‘Negative Mind’ fell short, this song comes along and picks it up again. It’s somewhat slower than the rest of the album, the notes are more elongated, and the mood more downbeat. Strip it of the occasional “Oo-ooo’s” that the band seems to be so fond of, and you’ve got a track for the ages. With the sneaky opening guitar, the up and downscaling of the saxophone, and that organ that I am now so utterly besotted with, the instrumental side of the song seems to invite you to on a story of a paradoxically well executed and chaotic plan gone awry.
The penultimate ‘Too Much Fun’ begins the conclusion of the Hot Shame with further reminder that ‘The Atom Age’ can, and will, bring the beer drinking, glass shattering, intensity that they’re known and loved for. Like putting your foot through your TV at the party in your living room ? This is the song for you. ‘Wasteoid’, the exit track of the session, highlights the hypnotic aspects of the album excellently. It’s just fast enough to not be calm, yet just calm enough to not be extreme. It gets your foot tapping, but not necessarily your head banging – and that’s perfect, it’s exactly to be desired from an album with momentum and attitude like ‘Hot Shame’. ‘Wasteoid’ is a cool number, and perfectly brings this new release to a close.
Overall, ‘Hot Shame’ is a great album, technically proficient, lyrically fun, and highly enjoyable to listen to. Compared to previous releases, it seems a little less suited to speed away from a ferocious bank job, and more to more well-matched to a speed-drunk brawl by the surf shack; it’s still loud, it’s definitely gratifying, but fighting with surfboards in a garage just doesn’t have the same raw power and danger than The Atom Age’s previous work.