With "Acrobatic Tenement", one could first see just where these guys were heading. The production value, chords, and song structures are much more minimalist than their later efforts, and their lyrics are not quite so esoteric, but that is far from saying it is not At the Drive-In, nor is it saying that it is not still an amazing record. At this stage of ATDI's career, Cedric was not quite the incredible vocalist he turned into; I found that he did not enunciate well, and he never altered his style...never sang lower than his high-pitched wail, never whispered, never expanded his vocal horizons like he does on ATDI's later releases.
However, it is more than evident that At the Drive-In poured their heart and soul into this album. The guitars have a distinct warm sound, which you'll be able to hear on any of Amazon's samples, that coordinate beautifully on tracks such as Ticklish, Porfirio Diaz, and the end of Coating of Arms. Unlike future ATDI efforts, there is absolutely no distortion, which adds an interesting quality to the music, and proves just how powerful Cedric's voice can be: even with the clean guitars, there are extremely intense moments on this album.
All in all, Acrobatic Tenement is a stellar beginning to an incredible career from these amazing Texans.