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Alien Ant Farm explores new terrain

Brian Foy | Wednesday, September 17, 2003

It’s been two years since Alien Ant Farm broke through with their cover of Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal,” and since then the boys have been to hell and back again. After spending the majority of last year recovering from a near fatal bus accident, Alien Ant Farm is back with a new album and a seemingly new outlook on life. The band has enlisted the help of the DeLeo brothers of Stone Temple Pilots fame to produce their follow-up to the multi-platinum ANThology, resulting in a more experimental and boundary breaking sound that leaves no musical stone unturned.

It is quite evident from the opening strains of the first track of truANT that Alien Ant Farm has matured musically, but this surface listen gives no indication of their progression lyrically. In the chorus of “Sarah Wynn,” a childhood friend’s demise is revisited. “Why the hell were you shooting up? / Now you’re coming down, Sarah!” “Tia Lupé” is a song about a lover that opens with the lines “She traps a velvet moth between her harmless hands / Then builds an atrium to perch on her nightstand.” Lyrically, Alien Ant Farm is clearly a new and improved version of their MTV buzzworthy selves.

The band does a truly fantastic job of representing several styles of music on their newest effort. truANT has your standard distorted guitar sound on songs like “1000 Days,” but the band also progresses way beyond that throughout this album. On “Glow,” Alien Ant Farm utilizes acoustic guitars, percussion, and the occasional handclap. “Tia Lupé” has a fast paced salsa vibe that utilizes both a piano and a trumpet. However, the crowning achievement of truANT must be “Hope,” complete with its violins and cello.

Alien Ant Farm owes some of the credit of the distinct truANT sound to the DeLeo brothers. Their influence is quite apparent on several of the tracks as they appear to be taken straight from a Stone Temple Pilots record. Songs like “Rubber Mallet” and” “Drifting Apart” are definitely influenced by the late STP sound, but uses the type of distortion that Alien Ant Farm calls its bread and butter. “Glow” is very reminiscent of the earlier STP sound that at times called for the acoustic guitar, but once again the band progresses beyond that with its use of a variety of other instruments.

Considering the popularity of the singles from ANThology, it may be difficult to imagine that Alien Ant Farm can reproduce that kind of success with their follow-up. However, their sophomore major label release is anything but a slump. In fact, every aspect of truANT is stronger than its predecessor. Lyrically, the content is deeper and very true to life. Experiences from both personal and public life appear on this album, and the seamless transition between the two allows it to succeed. Musically, Alien Ant Farm has found the ability to both maintain their unique sound while also experimenting with the help of the DeLeo brothers.