I absolutely love Boris' work ethic. Four new albums of fresh material in one year is more than anyone should be able to ask of any artist whose name is not either Buckethead or Senmuth, and their dedication to stylistic diversity is a commendable trait that's generally unheard of in modern music. What's more, Boris have a history of significantly above-average releases under their belt.
If you can't tell from the buildup there, I'm preparing myself to say that this album was unexpectedly terrible.
Firstly, the vocalist sounds like she's trying to be alluring ("attractive" and "sexual" seem too strong), but the only way she knows to accomplish this is by being breathier than an asthmatic running a triathlon. On top of that, Wata seems so disinterested in everything that she is singing about that it is hard to imagine she even cared about the music on this album. “Party Boy” is one of the biggest offenders, especially because the vocal work ruins an otherwise decent song. The worst case, however, has to be the song “You.” It is designed to be an entirely vocal-driven piece, and yet the performance is so weak that it could have carried more weight if someone had left the studio window open and accidentally let in a stiff breeze. In general, the vocal tracks sound uninspired, almost like an afterthought to the rest of the album. Then again, given how the rest of this album sounds, an afterthought may actually have been above and beyond the requisite effort.
Another issue is that the drum work is sparse and repetitive. While that may fit the aesthetic of the album, there's just a little something wrong when almost every song on the album shares the exact same drum pattern. It sounds like a drum machine programmed by someone with only the most basic knowledge of rock music; I think I had a more sophisticated sense of rhythm as a toddler with wooden spoons.
There are occasional references back to Boris' more traditional noise rock/drone metal sound, but even those bits feel half-assed at best. “See You Next Week” feels like an unfinished studio outtake that accidentally made its way onto the final product, and “Hand in Hand” has so little musical substance to it that John Cage is rolling over in his grave, wondering why he hadn't thought of it first. (Note: despite this being her second dig at him, the author has only the highest respect for composer/wordsmith/sex god John Cage)
Sometimes Boris stumble upon some semi-interesting ideas, but they get beaten into the earth from repetition to the point where enjoying them becomes an act of charity. The lead single, “Hope,” has the makings of what could have been a halfway-decent song. Instead, the piece sounds like someone forgot to mention the term 'development' to the band while they were writing. Even “Party Boy” could have been an interesting song if not for the aforementioned issues with the vocal work. “Spoon” comes extremely close to being a fun rocker, but falls just short of being enjoyable. The acoustic piece “Aileron” is probably the only actual fun moment on this album, and even then, it's only meant as a quirky transitional piece, signaled by its abrupt segue into the much weaker track, “Les Paul Custom '86.”
Allow me to clarify a point here: it may sound like I am slamming an entire genre of music in general rather than just this particular album. That is not my intention. I am not against minimalist shoegaze music, nor am I against off-kilter pop, noise rock, or any of the other myriad of genres this album could be said to encompass. I am, however, firmly against bad music, a crime this album is unavoidably guilty of.
To sum that all up, the issue with Attention Please is that it's too simple to be engaging on the terms of its musical merits, and it's too boring to be enjoyed on the carnally pleasurable level of pop music. It's effectively the worst of both worlds. In retrospect, the only thing I actually still appreciate about this album is the cover art. Aided only by the piercing gaze of a woman wearing more makeup than the entire female population of the New York metropolitan area, Boris' cry for "Attention Please" is the only honest statement this entire record makes.
2.5 / 10
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