Burning Airlines Identikit

[DeSoto; 2001]

Rating: 4/5

Styles: post-punk, indie rock
Others: Jawbox, Cursive, Fugazi, Jawbreaker

Ex-Jawbox members J.Robbins and Bill Barbot proved that a successful music career was possible after Jawbox by releasing Mission: Control! under the moniker Burning Airlines. Now the pressure of following up a brilliant freshman release presents itself, but this time with the departure of partner Barbot and arrival of new bassist Mike Harbin.

Even with the lineup change, Identikit has a similar sound to Mission: Control! (catchy melodies, dissonant guitars, driving drums etc), but goes a little further with the incredible amount of variety. What's amazing is that each track has its own special hook or style that make each song easily recognizable; vital for an album with 15 songs. Each power-packed post punk anthem captures the energy and excitement of the trio. Whereas Mission: Control's last half was spread a little thin, Identikit continually engages you throughout the album.

Unfortunately, this excess amount of variety is also where Identikit falls short. Yes, the songs are constantly begging for your attention, but after the first half of the album, the songs become redundant. Even though each song has its own special hook, many follow a similar formula in song structure causing the album to seem drawn out and a bit on the boring side. It almost seems that they crammed these songs on one album just because they didn't want to waste any of them. A more selective choice of songs could have made the album more cohesive and enjoyable.

But when Burning Airlines are on, boy can they rock. The album begins with "Outside the Aviary"; a typical Burning Airlines in-your-face rock fest that sets the tone and aggression for the remainder of the album. Later, the bouncy "A Lexicon" busts in with a sound that echoes "Pacific 231" and "Escape Engine" from their first album 

The progression between the two albums is not indicative of a new direction, but Identikit makes a mark of its own and showcases their expanding musical ideas. With this new album and recently added keyboardist/guitarist Ben Pape, the future of Burning Airlines looks as bright as my whites.

1. Outside the Aviary
2. Morricone Dancehall
3. A Lexicon
4. A Song With No Words
5. All Sincerity
6. The Surgeon's House
7. The Deluxe War Baby
8. Everything Here Is Very New
9. Paper Crowns
10. Blind Trial
11. Indentikit
12. Election-Night Special
13. Tastykake
14. Earthbound
15. Dear Hilary