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Album Review: A Death In The Family - 'Small Town Stories'

16 March 2009 | 11:27 am | Staff Writer
Originally Appeared In

Don’t even bother reading this review.

Seriously. Don’t read this. Usually when I write these I try to approach the topic from an angle you might not previously have considered, look at things from a different perspective to make it a more interesting read y’know? But look at what we’re dealing with here- A new Death In The Family record, recorded by Sam Johnson and released through Resist, I mean fuck, of course it’s going to be awesome! What could I possibly say that you don’t already know? 


But you’re still reading, you stupid idiot. Oh well, here goes nothing. 


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Concept albums are always fucking sweet (you already knew that), and for this release the boys have put to music ten short stories based mostly around rural Australian towns (you knew that too probably, from the title, I’ll stop these now). Some of these are recognizable where others are either fictional or more personal, from events that made headlines to the common frustration of being stuck in the one place for life. It’s in the vain of the latter where we start with ‘This Letter’s Proof’, about a couple who moved to a country town to find some peace, but instead feel isolated and have grown to resent each other for it, talk about hitting the ground running.  


From there it just doesn’t let up, keeping with the choppy, rattling sound ADITF are known for but with an ease and fluidity that sounds new to me. I’m sure the superior sound quality plays a part in that, but there’s also the sense that these guys are just so rock solid now and so comfortable writing together that this is the exact album they wanted to make, it carries with it a particular confidence which shines through in the songs and gives everything life. For me this factor reaches its peak just past the halfway mark with ‘Minor Chord In The Melody’, a driving toetapper with a pulsing, manic chorus that is just everything a track in a concept piece should be- by itself a really good song, but in the context of the album it feeds off everything before it and in turn feeds everything that follows and it’s all just exactly where it should be, it’s quite the spectacle.  


There really is not much at all wrong with this album, every now and then the raspy, barking style vocals might not hold the delicacy required of certain parts, and once or twice fall a bit flat and don’t carry the melody as strongly as one might hope, but any imperfections are so brief that by the time you realise they’ve happened the album has already gone back to being awesome and you feel like a dick. Besides, with the addition of violin and piano in many tracks, the delicacy factor is well and truly covered for the most part, and what’s the sense in nit-picking anyway? The record is killer. 


And you’re still reading, did you learn anything at all from this that you couldn’t have found out for yourself by going out and buying a CD you already knew was going to be awesome? No. Unless you’ve never heard these guys before, in which case game on n00b, they’re heading off to the states soon to tour with The Gaslight Anthem and you’re going to look pretty dumb when you’re the only one who’s never heard them.

This review is useless, just buy the fucking album for christ’s sake.

1. This Letter’s Proof 

2. Erasing The Maps 

3. Vodka And Balconies 

4. Sinking Slowly 

5. Our Divide 

6. Minor Chord In The Melody 

7. Bottom Of The Lake 

8. Traffic 

9. Lets Lose 

10. His Body, It Tells Stories