We’re Alive, Alive: Semi Precious Weapons skyrocket in a new direction with “Aviation High”

Review for thelineofbestfit.com; graduate class exercise (non-submitted)
2013

When it comes to the in-your-face attitude that’s so quickly associated with rock and roll, Semi Precious Weapons has got it down to a science. They’re loud, they’re brightly colored, and their dirty glam-rock shows have captivated – and perhaps even perplexed – audiences all over America and the UK. When you get to open for an act like Lady Gaga, it’s not surprising that Vogue would refer to you as “unabashedly crass and deliciously animated”; sounds just like Gaga herself.

After the 2010 release of You Love You, an aptly named follow-up to 2008’s We Love You, and nearly three straight years on the road, the New York City-based motley quartet took a brief hiatus to disappear into Los Angeles with producer Tricky Stewart, known for bangers like Rihanna’s “Umbrella” and Beyonce’s “Single Ladies.” The result of this collaboration is Semi Precious Weapons’ dreamy new single “Aviation High,” released on February 18. While pretty boy (always doused in eyeliner) lead vocalist Justin Tranter’s signature breathy croon is still to be heard, believe me when I say this is something a little different from the band’s norm.

Listen.

Clocking in at just under four minutes, the new single takes the listener up into the air over dark instrumentation and an electrified drum beat. It can really be likened to the feeling of taking flight: light and feathered, while still maintaining the slow-churning power of a jet engine propelling an aircraft. The repeated chorus tilts itself like a wing into a cloud, over and over: “We’re alive, alive / we’re alive, alive.” Fans of the band’s previous scream-it-out anthems like “Magnetic Baby” and the eponymous “Semi Precious Weapons” might not be immediately turned on by this ethereal effort. But after a few listens? It’s bound to get them talking. Just watch the user comments on the SoundCloud stream as they pop up through your flight:

“Beauty is as beauty does.”

“Love this track. The drums are minimal, the vocals are on point, the guitar riffs are hypnotic…”

“I totally love this new sound.”

“Aviation High” is a reinvention of self and sound that didn’t set Semi Precious Weapons back in the slightest. While it’s not as grimy and angsty of a song as the group became known for, it manages to pack a powerful sucker-punch in a pretty, flawlessly produced package. A track like this is already turning heads, and their to-be-announced 2013 album is, as a result, one of the most promising new alternative records we’ve got to look forward to this year.