Atmosphere is having fun again. Despite the dark tones of “Bitter”, “Kanye West”, and “Bob Seger”, if the Record Store Day EP proves anything it’s that Atmosphere are in a much better place. “Kanye West“‘s jocular undertones emphasize the song’s theme of rolling with the punches, doing whatever makes you feel good, and surrendering to the moment. In essence, this Kanye dance is all about doing what moves you… whether that’s good or bad he leaves up to you, pairing a haunting beat with freewheeling lyrics. “Bitter” and “Bob Seger”, the latter being the extended version released in the video, are classic Atmosphere ruminations on modern, existential struggles. Slug’s words here return to a more universally applicable realm, something he did so well in the past even if, just like on these, some lyrics can be interpreted as rap touring and Atmosphere specific.
The rest of the tracks are B-Sides available on the iTunes and Amazon versions, which is a treat for those of us who pre-order the Southsiders vinyl. “Whoever thought you had a goddamn clue, never knew you’d turn out to be an idiot” rings the chorus of “Idiot”, is that same self-deprecating Slug we’ve all come to know and love, except this time rubbing in his happiness- which is a good thing. As much as I hate comparing new to old, it’s vintage Sad Clown, but happy. And it suits him. “I Don’t Need No Fancy Shit” weaves a fun narrative with a bit of a twist ending, basically pleading the idea that holding a magnifying glass to someone’s motives yields a richer story than our judgements do. “Prelude to Hell” is very likely an examination of the music scene, comparing it to a party gone wrong. The sense of omen, provided by Ant’s sonic treatment and Slug’s dark analysis, takes you to that memory of a moment when you realize you’re in the midst of something that can’t be helped. Sometimes you stay, sometimes you leave; but you never go back.
Ant’s beats are sharper than ever. Noticeably absent are the 2 band mates added for the last 2 releases, and I think that’s a good thing. They added dimension to the Atmosphere sound that expanded what they could do, but this return to a 2-man unit feels like another expansion. Instead of stepping back or hoping to recapture a sound, it’s like they’ve learned what they could from being a 4 (+) piece and refined it for 2. Rejuvenation implies that something had less life before, but that’s not the case here. Here, the rejuvenation is more like the decision to withhold or add an ingredient to a classic recipe. And through this, they sound like they’re having more fun than ever. The Family Sign felt so much heavier than any Atmosphere album, with the weight of Eyedea’s death thick in the air, while When Life Gives You Lemons… sounded heavier to suit the theme. At this point, they sound like they’re out of mourning and ready to have fun again. There were hints of it on the “To All My Friends, Blood…” EPs, but there are overt references to it here.
For me, this is obviously quite fitting, but that’s anotherpostforanothertime.