Seems I am on a bit of a shoegazing/post rock marathon again - must have something to do with the summer weather that the UK is under at the time of writing, a mad cross between a sauna and a tidal wave. But enough to about the weather, let’s talk about Explosions In The Sky. Hailing from Austin, Texas this is their sixth release and stylistically it a beautiful package - Both the dig pack and vinyl editions of the album case can be unfolded to form a model of a house (with either red or green walls). If viewed from the inside, the view from the door of the house is overlooking a tornado across a plain. A poster of an un-kept lawn to place the house on and a "Postcard From 1952" with the track listing was included also. Early printings of the vinyl had coloured vinyl and etchings of floorboards on one side. To see this package is a dream even in the CD package and it is one of the most pleasing releases I have ever owned. If this was voted for on the package alone, I would have to invent a new mark for it as it is that good.
What you get here is 6 tracks of shoegazing instrumentals which vary from just under 4 minutes to over 10 minutes. As with instrumentals you do not have much in the way of story to guide the album from point to point. For 46 minutes the band invite you into their world which has some wonderful colours and shades, a bit top heavy on the jangle version of the guitar and there is a beautiful use of feedback to dramatic effect, and the playing is wonderful. This is one of those albums that can be either in the forefront of your mind or in the background when you have your friend over.
However for all the good that is here, there is a big problem. This is not the strongest musical release from Explosions In The Sky by a long shot. I do have to check sometimes which track is playing as they do mesh into one big constant. Only "Postcard From 1952" and "Last Known Surroundings" make any effort to standout from the rest of this album. Now sometimes this is a good thing, uniformity is pleasing and required - but on this sort of album it can be a drain as well. I have a feeling that some of the charm of this album is what also makes it annoying at the same time. When this works you will be uplifted and in awe of the magical intertwining sounds and textures. The rest of the time you will be last in a sea of notes with no map, compass, chart or hope of making it out alive. I think the frustration that comes from this is that I know that this is not their best work, it is a good record and as I said before, it can be many things - but the fact is that if you knew what else they had done you would still look at this as a bit of a letdown to be honest. There is better stuff by them to be honest, but it is still a pleasant release - just not that essential. Love that packaging though.....
5.5 out of ten - It could have been a bit better
You can purchase here from Amazon
You can visit the band's website here
You can listen to the album here on Spotify
Live version of "Last Known Surroundings"