I cannot believe that this record is over ten years old! Sometimes it is true that time does really fly when you’re having fun. The album in question is the fourth album released by The Ataris from Anderson, Indiana. This was their one and only release on the Columbia record label, there was a much fractured and delayed ending to that partnership after the release of this album, but this was an album which represents a career high for the Indiana, peaking at 24 in the American Billboard 200 charts and achieving Gold record status as well. 2003 was a good year for the alternative punk and these guys were having a very good time on both sides of the Atlantic with their popularity going through the roof. Shame it all went south so soon afterwards, but they are still together and a new album is allegedly in the offering. However, this is a review of 'So Long, Astoria'; an album that takes its name from the movie 'The Goonies'.
From the word go on this album it is summertime. Sometimes a record just feel like a season, for example - Pearl Jam's 'Ten' is a late autumn/early winter record; anything by the mighty Wodensthrone is a winter record; The Wonderstuff 'Never Loved Elvis' is a spring time record; this one just has hazy summer nights, a few bottles of beer and the fire by the seaside. Opening with the twin attack of the title track and "Takeoffs And Landings", this record is an open letter from the heart of the band to the world to show that your emotions can be shared and are not to be trapped deep within. Some of these tunes are a little on the cheesy side; when I say cheese if they were to be in a supermarket, they would have a counter as big as an athletics track. Songs like "In This Diary" with lines like "These are the most important days of our lives" just try too hard to be (for want of a better word) important and life affirming.
This is a common theme through the album with the lyrics, it is want to be the most important album of your life and at times I can see why it might be if you were going through some of the drama's that this is hinting at; such as on "The Saddest Song", "All You Can Ever Learn Is What You Already Know" and "My Reply" - not the songs are nice enough, the music is really good pop punk; yet the lyrics just keep on ruining what could have been a great album if they just changed from heart on their sleeve with each song to have some with a different slate - a human observation track maybe, perhaps even a political track as well. Instead we get a cover of Don Henley classic "The Boys of Summer" which sort of sums up this album in a way. It does let down what is a fun album to have on when it is the tracks to a party and you’re not focusing on the teenage drama lyrical content, it is a fun record. But the moment you look at its content, it falls apart like an episode of Dawson's Creek or whatever drama is currently showing on e4. Depending on your slant for emotional punk music will decide if this is one of your most favourite or hated records ever; for me it is somewhere in the middle, I both love and hate this record in equal measure.
5 out of ten - It could have been a bit better
You can purchase the album from Amazon here
There is no Ataris website, but you can visit either their bandcamp page...
...and here is a link to their Facebook page
You can listen to the album on Spotify here
Here is a live version of the title track which was recorded on the Warp Tour from 2003