Ned's Atomic Dustbin

Furtive/The WORK Group, 1995

REVIEW BY: Pete Crigler


On their third album, England’s Ned’s Atomic Dustbin was determined to shake things up a bit. Their second album, 1992’s Are You Normal?, was a stiff and wooden affair that did nothing to advance the band’s career. Deciding it was time to try out some new musical ideas, the band began experimenting with electronic elements and adding more guitar to the mix, a slot that had usually been held by their double bass attack.

The opening salvo and first single, “All I Ask of Myself Is That I Hold Together,” starts off with a slow building intro of church organ and a small choir before the full power of guitarist Rat comes to the forefront with face smashing intensity. Assisted immensely by drummer Dan Worton and the double bass assault of Alex Griffin and Matt Cheslin, Rat and vocalist Jon Penney launch the song into the stratosphere of rock immortality. Next up, the oddity that is “Floote” again proves how adventurous and daring the band could be while all their contemporaries were more than willing to just play it safe.

The rest of the record follows a similar pattern; “Premonition,” quite possibly one of the greatest tracks the band ever recorded, begins with an answering machine message about the 1994 earthquakes that tore apart the West Coast of America. The electronic backing amps up the intensity, heightening the worrisome aspects of trying to find someone. Forget Sleeper or Elastica, this was the real British alt rock of the ‘90s.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Playing heavier and faster than previously heard on a Ned’s record, “Borehole” might remind the listener of “Cut Up” off their 1991 debut: it’s same level of intensity but with louder guitar. As stated previously, Rat’s guitars are all over the record and they’re on the same sound wave as the basses, which is a very refreshing and rewarding twist for the band. The double bass comes to the head of the class on “Your Only Joke,” another great track where Penney’s vocals highlight the mood and atmosphere. Penney was probably one of the most underrated vocalists of that era and even all these years later, he’s still got it!

Slowing things down, the down tempo feel of “Stuck” is another refreshing change for a band not known for slowing things down this much. “Stuck” was the second single and should’ve been all over the radio but alas, 1995 was a world where Blur and Oasis were selling records by the truckload and bands like Ned’s were beginning to wind down.

The most surprising thing on the record is one of the final tracks: “I Want it Over” is a total ballad, but done in typical Ned’s style with great drumming and thunderous bass. The song works so damn well because the band played with such emotion and intensity, as if they had been completely revived by the time they went to make the record.

Keeping their collective tongue-in-cheek humor intact, the cheekily titled “Song Eleven Could Take Forever” wraps the album up with a nice, neat bow on top.

Although this record is outstanding and should be seen alongside God Fodder as the band’s watermark, by the time it was released, their momentum had shrank so considerably in America that the album barely made a ripple. It’s a shame really. Licking their collective wounds on the road, the band decided in 1996 that it was time to pack it in.

Though the original, classic lineup reunited ten years later, they’ve yet to release any new full-lengths. So as it appears, Brainbloodvolume might serve as their recording epitaph, but guess what? It was a hell of a way to bow out and is a masterful record that deserves multiple spins.

Rating: A

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© 2014 Pete Crigler and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Furtive/The WORK Group, and is used for informational purposes only.