“Some of us grew up along the way.” I used to battle with the opposite sex on the Daley, till I figured out that some wars weren’t worth fighting. And I used to get angry about the things I couldn’t control until I found my balance in a mixture of life experiences and personal loses.
One listen to Atmosphere’s The Family Sign and one might think that the group ventured far away from the formula that made them indie rap superstars: Slug, sharing stories of turbulent relationships that fuck with one’s head and questioning one’s self worth and Ant’s soul inspiring production with its roots in Prince’s Minneapolis Sound – blended with its hip-hop appeal.
With the addition of keyboardist Erik Andersen and guitarist Nate Collis, the group has grown more into a family these days and Atmosphere’s sound has evolved from soul sampling loops to true musicianship that includes a fuller, richer reverberation.
Those who long for the days when the sky was Overcast! or when Lucy used to drive the Ford will probably end up disappointed after a quick run through the album. God still Loves Ugly, but Seven’s Travels seem to have taken them to another place. Can You Imagine How Much Fun they’re Having? I can. But When Life Gives You Lemons, Paint That Shit Gold!
The one thing that holds true, like any other new Atmosphere LP, is that it’s sound is different than its predecessor, and its content is something that still resonates. Slug’s art of storytelling is grade “A”. Whether its speaking on abusive lovers in “The Last to Say” or deciphering a love lost and the emptiness felt in “Who’ll I’ll Never Be,” Slug’s oratory presence pulls at your emotions – leaving the listener hanging on to every line and metaphor.
Musically, the sound is more melodic than previous efforts. The rawness that was felt in God Loves Ugly doesn’t show its self, but neither does the soulfulness that was found on You Can’t Imagine How Much Fun We’re Having. The Family Sign takes that next step in Atmosphere’s progression, covering more mature subject matter, while musically staying true to the record, cohesively and consistently flowing from one track to the next. Both Erik Andersen and Nate Collis hold their own on The Family Sign, showcasing their talents respectively, like on the first single “Just For Show,” the piano driven “Millennium Dodo” and guitar heavy “Bad Bad Daddy.”
In the end, Atmosphere set out to make a record “about being okay with losing friends and strengthening your bonds with others, celebrating the person who’s been the most positive in your life, your kids, your homies, leaving the people you need to behind, and bringing the ones you love with you (rhymesayers.com),” and that’s what they did. The Family Sign speaks to those of us searching for answers in the past, all the while growing from our own experiences to become the person we are.
Although this album might not garner the commercial or critical acclaim as did past efforts, The Family Sign shows Atmosphere’s growth as an artist and individual. And like many artists, those who conform to society’s ideas usually get left behind. So thank you Atmosphere for staying true to yourselves and making a record that your loyal fans will understand, and new listeners just won’t get. That authenticity is something we respect and something that keeps us wanting more. Thank You…now everybody hold up your family sign!
“Just For Show”
“I Don’t Need Brighter Days”
Author: Ditto Ramirez