Airbag – A Day At The Beach: Album Review

Four years since the release of the superb Disconnected,  Airbag deliver the goods again on their fifth full-length album, A Day At The Beach.

Release Date: 19th June 2020

Label: Karisma Records

Formats: CD / DL / vinyl

It was Disconnected, along with the excellent The Greatest Show On Earth from 2013 that provided a thrilling introduction to Airbag. Their resemblance to delivering on the sort of music that the Floyd did at their best – particularly the searing Gilmouresque guitar solos – may have played a part.

The current lineup which includes Henrik Bergan Fossum on drums will be Airbag’s first album as a trio, and also features guest musicians that include Wobbler’s Kristian Hultgren.A Day At The Beach is what they’ve called “the result of a strong collaboration between all three of us.” Having lost two original members there’s been a rethink; a reboot which has nudged the band to venture into new areas.

It’s a set of six new songs recorded during the autumn and winter of 2019-20, and inspired by a resurgence of 1980s electronica, new wave and movie scores. Sounds that add to their signature powerful sound that combines ethereal soundscapes with their searing and soaring guitar-driven progressive rock.  

The slow build of the opening Machines And Men (“here they come, marching on” an apt opening vocal line). There’s even a hint of the sort of throbbing bassline that you’d find on a Stranglers album. A desperate plea to be out and be free is matched with an urgency and a sense of claustrophobia and paranoia.

The easy flow of the two part title track bookend Into The Unknown (more of the lyrical themes of struggle – “take me away from here“) and Sunsets. The former again bubbles along on an undercurrent of sequenced synth in a slow build – cue images of increasingly turbulent slo-mo waves – and into one of those flowing guitar solos that we now take for granted from Airbag. The latter harks back to the previous two albums, as rocky as we’ve heard gem and for a rare occasion on this record, the guitar goes into the stratosphere with an extended and increasingly urgent lead break.

Lyrically, A Day at the Beach is very much a story of us and them; told by a husband, father and brother leaving his family behind into an unknown future. It’s the contrast between the desperate individual struggling to survive and people in power observing at a safe distance. What an appropriate and sobering thought. The “you always get what you want” line from Megalomaniac reinforces the imbalance, also portrayed by the arrangement itself that shifts gear midway via a sudden and startling guitar riff. One that evolves into another searing effort that soars into the stratosphere. The sort of intensity that begs for the phrase ‘ending on a high’.

In the alt-prog scene that crosses swords with the more ambient post-rock brigade, Airbag are the masters. If Anathema tip up with something like this on their next album I’d be a happy bunny. Tweaking the template, Airbag have crafted another masterwork.

Listen to Sunsets here:

Airbag online: Website / Facebook / Bandcamp / Instagram / YouTube

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