SYNDICATE
Posted by: Dave on June 20, 2001 at 11:38 pm

Since plane crashes are something only people like the directors and cast of “Airplane” joke about, you can’t help but get an eerie feeling about Burning Airlines’ name. After listening to a couple tracks on their second album “Identikit” you’ll find your uneasiness was warranted. The album’s full of dark cynicism and political bitterness. And that’s what we’d expect from any good D.C.-based, punk-minded band.

Burning Airlines are at their best when they contrast catchy vocal melodies and tight harmonies with aggressive or dissonant guitars. The explosive, Bad-Religion-esque opener “Outside the Aviary” displays the upbeat version of this dichotomy. More somber is the album’s chilling highlight “The Surgeon’s House.” A wicked, laid-back groove drives the intimate reflection of a son looking at an old black-and-white photo of his deceased mother.

The album falters a bit when vocalist/guitarist J. Robbins talk/sings or yells. Hooks tend to drag without well-sung melodies to move them. But the rapid-fire vocal assault of “Morricone Dancehall” is the exception. Rap-like verses mixed with the ominous chorus “Without the body there is no crime,” create some beautiful hysteria.

And, of course, what good is a D.C. band without some political venting? “The Deluxe War Baby” mocks immigrants coming to America in search of freedom “Never have I felt so well-policed. Why should I be anything but pleased?” And “Election-Night Special” targets the buying of public office “Mother Money, your dreams came true today.”

Identikit would benefit from cutting out a third of its 15 tracks. But Burning Airlines spew enough sardonic venom to make any morose cynic happy.

– Dave Powers
(As posted 6/20/01 on 3wk.com)



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