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The all-inclusive, ever-changing, and uncomfortably flexible guide to all things music in the 2010's.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Explosions in the Sky - Take Care, Take Care, Take Care: B+

What the fuck is this? I fucking came to this thing thinking I was going to hear some good old-fashioned instrumental rock SANS vocals, and what is this? Voices? Singing?!!!!!!! I’m offended in so many ways. This is not how Explosions in the Sky should be making music; they have completely fallen off the wagon. I can’t fucking believe this shit. Fucking unconscionable.

Yeah, I don’t actually care that “Trembling Hands,” the third and shortest song on Explosions in the Sky’s first album in four years, Take Care, Take Care, Take Care features a few “oh”’s in the background. I’m really just bringing attention to it, because that aspect of the album was the only one that legitimately caught my attention while I was listening to it. Take Care features the Texas outfit playing the same soft-LOUD-soft crescendo-by-numbers shtick that has become somewhat of their trademark over the years, but, on this album, it comes dangerously close to becoming the stalest of patterns. Granted, the massive climaxes Explosions in the Sky can create are the stuff of pure bliss (Just ask fans of their 2003 album, The Earth Is Not a Cold Dead Place), and there are some similarly enormous musical builds to be found on this album with which you can reaffirm your love of life and music, but claims from critics that it is formulaic are not, by any means, unfounded.

While I can enjoy Take Care for its ornate structures and rich production, it just doesn’t have enough moments of tension. Those familiar with Explosions in the Sky know that the group tends to play long songs, the lengthiest on their newest running just over ten minutes. And while many of Take Care’s songs are, as background music, quite good, boredom would not be an unwarranted response to the vast lulls that occupy a majority of the album. Although “Last Known Survivor” switches from a solid 4/4 beat to a delicate 3/4 about a third of the way in and does increase in tempo, when it drops out with no distinct release, it can prove to be frustrating. This is true with “Be Comfortable, Creature” as well. While I don’t have a great problem with either’s technique, those expecting a distinct payoff will feel like it was time wasted. And with both songs clocking in at a total of more than seventeen minutes, there goes over a third of your album.

“Postcard From 1952” begins with the band’s standard prettily flecked guitars and skittering percussion before it picks up incrementally into a fanfare that sparkles with a well-placed descending guitar line. It’s Take Care’s best song and an excellent indication that the group can still dazzle with post-rock catharsis. While I find nothing particularly objectionable about Take Care, more moments like that would certainly not hurt.


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