A cold oasis in the stagnant cultural barrens of the upper Midwest, Minneapolis’ music community boasts a cross-pollination of punk rock spirit and hip-hop love that can’t be found anywhere else in the country. While the mash-up of ideals and music has been going on for quite some time now in the Twin Cities, Atmosphere has and continues to stand at the forefront of the movement. Hyped to a level that easily exceeds indie-cred, the duo of Slug and Ant have built a heavy reputation for themselves over the past decade. Whether it’s the down-to-earth sincerity, progressive sentiments, or the steady supply of ear-seducers that run through their beats and rhymes, Atmosphere’s fan base is vast and transcends the confines of multiple sub-cultures.
The duo’s sixth full length to date, When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold is founded around a collection of character narratives with recurring themes of parenthood, addiction, escapism, the sex industry and generalized struggle. Spinning tales of the single mother searching for solace, the low-down hooker dominated by her pimp, the hung-over drunk’s lament, the regretful ex-husband or the burnt-out diner waitress, Slug’s simplistic but poignant sketches create a vivid and convincing portrait of everyday American hardship. Beat-wise, Ant’s got things on lockdown — spanning from fuzz-box-synth club bangers to silky minimalism complimented by pedal steel and piano nuances, the album’s got mass pop appeal. However, when the last snare’s been hit and the final syllable’s been spit, When Life Gives You Lemons simply feels honest and innovative, and that in of itself provides a sense of resonance that can outlive even the strongest of hooks. BM