PATROL: Zirconium: CD

Patrol’s follow-up to their 2006 debut (and one of my favorite albums of that year), Destinations, has finally arrived. Destinations holds a special place in my heart, as it was an album that I listened to almost constantly for the first few months when I moved to Seattle back in 2006. Patrol is also from Seattle, and seeing them live that summer made me appreciate the album all that much more. Thus, Zirconium had its work cut out for it in order to impress me. While the debut had some songs stretching into the five- or six-minute mark, this album finds almost all of its eight songs over the six-minute mark, with the first track clocking in at ten minutes (a ballsy move that works) and another track coming in at eleven minutes. Thankfully, Patrol’s songs fit naturally into their time frame. In other words, there are not three or four minutes of noise (with the exception of the somewhat creepy-sounding but wonderfully named track “Skullfuckin’ Sufjan Stevens”) within a song. The length of the songs and the fact that the album starts out with a ten-minute track obviously shows that Patrol has no interest in commercial appeal and just wants to rock. Hard. And that they do. I can definitely hear growth with Patrol’s sound from their debut. It’s clear there is a prog influence on the band (is that Tool I hear?) but some of lead singer/guitarist Doug Lorig’s math rock background (his past bands include RoadsideMonument) comes through, too. Like Tool, Patrol has a melodic angle and beyond that, some of the guitars also are reminiscent of Isis, although I probably am only saying that because I’ve been listening to so much of the new Isis album. However, both Patrol albums and the first four Isis albums were both recorded by Matt Bayles (Pearl Jam, Mastodon, Minus The Bear) so there is that common connection. The lyrics are tough to crack, but there are a few catchy lyrics, even if they don’t make total sense. Lorig’s unambiguous, sung vocals are easy to follow and pair well with the music. Zirconium is good and definitely worth picking up if you enjoyed Patrol’s first album, or any of the bands I mentioned as influences. Is it better than Destinations? No. But I’m more than happy to give it time to convince me otherwise.

 –kurt (Stiff Slack, myspace.com/stiffslackrecords)