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Posted on August 25th, 2015 (10:00 am) by Heather Starks

Atlas Genius doesn’t have a typical run-of-the-mill origin story. The Australian duo shot to prominence when they uploaded their song "Trojans" online and it spread like wildfire. A supporting role on tour with Imagine Dragons led to their own headlining tour, and the video for Trojans went on to have over 5 million views on YouTube. After a rigorous 18 months on the road, they finally returned to their home studio to work on their follow up, Inanimate Objects.

Their first album, When It Was Now, was an indie pop goodie bag that was at times ambitious and other times lost, most likely the result of rushing to finish the album after their unexpected success. That taught them valuable lessons, and Keith and his brother Michael spent a year crafting Inanimate Objects to be superior to its predecessor in every way. The sound is cleaner and more thoughtful, from the small flourishes of a synth to the way songs like "Refugees" and "A Perfect End" complement each other without sounding like clones. It's on the heavier end of the spectrum, less pop and more punch, but there are also moments of quiet introspection between the driving guitar attacks. Keith Jeffery might not think that Inanimate Objects is better than When It Was Now, but from an outsider’s perspective, Atlas Genius have clearly outdone themselves.

It’s difficult to put a label on this record because there are so many different influences; one minute you hear The Police and then suddenly it's Depeche Mode, but it's not exactly either. There are synth-driven odes interspersed EDM-style build-ups, even in the same song. "Molecules" has a killer breakdowns, and combines those two eras without losing the groove of either; it's almost triumphant. This swagger carries over into "Stockholm," Keith at one point yelling, "We can crawl or we can run towards the sun,” with a bravado and assuredness that he would come out of a tangle with the sun unscathed.

Right around the point where some records begin to wane, Atlas Genius breathes life into an already ecstatic set of songs. The level of production and the marriage of rock and electronic music recalls heavyweights like MGMT or M83, embodied in the track "Friends With Enemies." Keith Jeffrey's lilting vocals complement the industrial-esque sounds splendidly, melting like butter over the chorus. There are a few retreads of previous material that do nothing to push the album to greater heights ("Where I Belong," "The City We Grow"), and these underwhelming tracks prevent the album as a whole from reaching a higher level of gratification. But there's more than enough juice and power to more than make up for it.

As sophomore albums go, Inanimate Objects is quite stunning. Where many bands misstep and deliver an uneven, often rushed product, Atlas Genius took their time and ended up with a record they can be proud of. The growth they've shown between When It Was Now and Inanimate Objects is staggering, so their 3rd attempt should be one hell of a ride.

Track List:

  1. The Stone Mill
  2. Molecules
  3. Stockholm
  4. Refugees
  5. A Perfect End
  6. Friendly Apes
  7. Friends With Enemies
  8. Where I Belong
  9. Balladino
  10. The City We Grow
  11. Levitate
Atlas Genius Cover Art
Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

Our Rating

78 / 100
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