Home Read Classic Album Review: The Ataris | So Long, Astoria

Classic Album Review: The Ataris | So Long, Astoria

Kris Roe's loose concept album about growing up, moving on and looking back is a superb showcase for the singer-songwriter. Pity his bandmates are no match for him.


This came out in 2003 – or at least that’s when I got it. Here’s what I said about it back then (with some minor editing):


So long, anonymity.

For a few years now, Ataris leader Kris Roe has proved himself one of the most talented young punk songwriters you’ve never heard, delivering lyrics with impressive levels of depth, maturity and literacy. That skill, displayed on albums like Blue Skies, Broken Hearts … Next 12 Exits, earned the former Indiana resident and his Santa Barbara band a major-label shot for their fourth album. Roe makes the most of it with So Long, Astoria, one of the most prominent emo albums of the year so far. A loose concept piece about growing up, moving on (both literally and figuratively) and looking back, So Long, Astoria showcases the songwriter at his finest, displaying both a sense of nostalgia and a gift for expressing it that are unusual in someone so young. That churning cover of Don Henley’s Boys of Summer is a nice touch, too. Sadly, either Roe’s musical artistry — or his band’s ability to render it constructively — seldom rises above cookie-cutter punk that’s servicable but nowhere near as inspired as his verbiage. With So Long, Astoria, Roe is so close to breaking through — and yet so far from making the album he’s capable of.


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