With 2009’s ‘A Memory Stream’, The American Dollar created a post-rock album that challenged genre stereotypes. By combining ambient, Hammond organ, squalling guitars and a healthy sense of space and dynamics, the duo of John Emanuele and Rich Cupolo seemed to be making a difference. ‘Atlas’ edges closer to dreampop territory and ends up sounding a bit too much like other bands.
‘A Few Words’ is set to rolling piano and epic atmospheric effects not unlike the artist Dextro. Similarly, ‘Age Of Wonder’ (in keeping with its title) is bathed in colourful dreamlike noise. Then, towards the middle of the album lurk two instrumentals of depth and complexity. ‘Circuits’ revolves around another spiralling melody made up of guitars that are both jangly and angry whereas ‘Red Letter’ embraces techno and skittering beats. ‘Fade In Out’ and ‘Equinox’, though, are too redolent of the swirling emptiness of M83 to truly enjoy. After a notable lapse in excitement toward the end of the record, the album at least recovers to offer ‘Flood’ and ‘Escapist’; a melancholic one-two of fine quality.
Admittedly the mixture of dreampop and yearning guitars doesn’t always pay dividends and ‘Atlas’ is at least a few tracks too long. However, most of the time it’s varied enough to hold the listener’s interest; just don’t expect anything particular unique from this record.