Atari Star: Prayer & Pretend

By Kelly Johnson

There’s not much to be said for an album whose strongest track is a cover song.

“Prayer & Pretend,” The Atari Star’s third full-length on Johann’s Face Records, unremarkably showcases the band’s influences in 10 hit-or-miss songs.

Traces of Sunny Day Real Estate and early grunge are mixed together with results as spotty as Scott Weiland’s drug record.

The album starts off strong with the lead track “Always if Only.” The song manages to capture the gloomy ambiance the band shows an affinity for without losing the listener’s interest.

By the middle of the album the songs have taken a complete nosedive. Slow and lumbering, the melodies and instrumentation are kept to a minimum. This does not work for the band, however, and melodies on “The Invisible Rule” and “Asphalt Everest” are ultimately forgettable.

The highlight is the cover of a Shellac song, “Copper.” The song represents everything The Atari Star could and should be: gloomy yet powerful and minimal, yet engaging.

Listening to the album feels like remembering a dream; certain parts stick out, but it is hard to remember the entire experience.