The Airborne Toxic Event, 'All at Once' (Island Def Jam)

7
All at Once
Critical Mass
Release Date: April 26, 2011
Label: Island Def Jam

by Peter Gerstenzang

Hyperliterate and terminally sad, the Airborne Toxic Event's 2008 self-titled debut was a downbeat gem. Although frontman Mikel Jollet still falls on life's thorns, the band's second album supports his weighty themes with more instrumental muscle. Whether imagining a gorgeously wailing new-wave soundtrack ("Numb") or slamming out punky reggae ("Changing") or giving Raymond Carver's working-class minimalism a rockabilly boost ("It Don't Mean a Thing"), this moody crew consistently elevate their leader's wounded drama.

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