Monday, May 30, 2011

"Take Care, Take Care, Take Care" by Explosions in the Sky

Released on April 26, 2011 on Temporary Residence Limited

Post rock is a strange animal: hard to describe as a genre without making it sound like elevator music or the backdrop for a nature documentary, yet immediately recognizable whenever you hear it. For years, one of the biggest names in this bizarre little subgenre has been Explosions in the Sky, an instrumental quartet from Austin, TX known for their larger than life crescendos laced with searing effects-driven guitar work that speaks volumes by itself without vocal accompaniment. Explosions in the Sky have risen to prominence in recent years thanks to frequent use of their music in movies and television shows, the raw emotion and epic-minded melodies in their songs a natural fit for world of film scoring.

Fans of the group's earlier work will feel right at home with their newest effort, Take Care, Take Care, Take Care. All the elements that have made previous Explosions albums so memorable return with the same ferocity that we have all come to know and love: the delicate intros, the slow but structured builds leading to crashing conclusions, the resulting mix being a grandiose overload of the senses. The songwriting hasn't lost any of its heart, as each note in each song reads like part of an overarching story. That's not to say that the sound hasn't changed; the first track “Last Known Surroundings” begins with an uncharacteristic tribal-sounding burst of noise before leading into more familiar Explosions fare. Unlike previous offerings, the drums on Take Care seem more fleshed out and are brought to the forefront in some of the most intense moments from the album's forty-six minute duration. No longer hidden behind the armies of guitar effects, this newly emphasized percussion leaves the music feeling more structured, at times even catchy (not easy to accomplish in a six-to-ten-minute post-rock ballad). It's nothing revolutionary, but it is certainly a nice addition that adds volumes worth of character to an already intricate experience.

Though it is not their best work (personally, I would give that distinction to 2003's The Earth Is Not A Cold Dead Place), Take Care does not disappoint. The band's sound is as powerful as it's ever been, and “Postcards from 1952” sets itself apart as one of the best compositions of their career. These four Texans show no signs of slowing down, and if they keep producing material of this caliber, I will keep listening.

Rating: 9.0
Standout tracks: “Postcard from 1952”, “Last Known Surroundings”

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