a curate's egg
Let's be positive. The opening track, The Birth and Death of the Day is a tremendous piece of work, never keeping still enough to indulge in the sonic "navel gazing" that always seems to undo post-rock records in my opinion; and showing a sprightliness and deftness in delivery to keep this listener thinking that there's lots more to come on this album.
However after this promising beginning we seem to tread some very familiar territory, sometimes ad infinitum. Usually there are two main parts to these sorts of records, the loud thumping bits and the quiet reflective bits. On Welcome, Ghosts, I'm sorry to say that the loud, thumping bits don't act as a convincing foil for the maudlin quiet bits. It is all too similar, in both tone and pace, and I truly wish they'd change key now and again. It's a clumsy and unsure piece, devoid of any real binding (or electrifying) structure.
Luckily, It's Natural to Be Afraid seems to pick up where The Birth... left off; the music has a palpable sense of tension and mystery. And the deliberate splitting of the track into "movements" works a treat. At times it gets very Cocteau Twins-y which is no bad thing at all, and there's a fabulous explosion of guitars three quarters of the way through (this being one of those "long" tracks so beloved of the genre, clocking in at 13 minutes or so). The only disappointing element is the limp drum sound, but we'll let that pass. The following track, What Do You Go Home To is pleasant enough, and the rippling piano riff certainly helps but the structure is a wee bit formulaic at times. The ending is weak too, drifting off too easily.
Catastrophe and the Cure tries manfully to inject some urgency after the torpor of the last couple of minutes; the drumming sounds crisper and the (too?) clean guitar sound seems to have at last found a good setting, (sonically speaking). There's a nice change of tempo amidships too, between the bouts of drumming and guitar thrashing. Finally, we have So Long, Lonesome which is a very beautiful piano-led piece, and allows the album to end on a suitably reflective note.
All in all, a mixed bag: a curate's egg, a mish-mash.
Words: Richard Foster