We've seen The Assembly grow from being a tenuous alt-rock Britpop influenced band at the start of this decade into the monolithic juggernaut of guitar licks and stadium sized lighter toting sing-a-longs they've become. The band mines the source material of the mid-80s college rock boom, adds some industrial sized dance beats, and slaps a shiny veneer over it. After a series of EPs released over the past few years, the band finally drops its full-length debut, The Tide Has Turned, tonight at The Darkroom.
Up until now, most of The Assembly's released work has contained more than a few glances to the dance rock aesthetic that's gripped much of modern rock this decade, but on The Tide has Turned, the band looks further inward and mines deeper, darker material. Upon first listen we admit we found the first half of the album to be so dramatic and insular it bordered on the bombastic, but upon further listening, the more subtle framework beneath each song began to reveal itself and push forward the songs' more sensuous side. Walls of guitars gave way to gently piercing synth lines complimenting the beats and providing alternate melodies. What at first seemed simple begins to grow engagingly complicated.
On the album's second half the band grows more daring and the feel of the music, if not the subject matter, grows more hopeful. The melodrama begins to melt away and the songs grow bolder while simultaneously becoming gentler in feel. It's a much needed relief from the swelling anthems occupying the earlier portions of the disc, and comes across as a refreshing breeze cooling the lands the magma released by earlier volcanic explosions. It's a welcome respite. Viewed panoramically, the album makes total sense, and carries us on a journey from our inward selves into the outer world.
The Assembly play tonight, September 19, at The Darkroom, 2210 W Chicago, 9 p.m., $7, 21+
Photo by Keith Claunch