Post-Rock. Post. Rock. After-Rock; that’s what it literally means, but it’s my understanding that Rock is still around, in some form or another. So what does Post-Rock mean? Well, the original intention of the term’s coiner, Simon Reynolds, back in 1994 was to convey an idea of moving past standard Rock tropes, taking in broader influences and using the standard Rock band instrumentation to produce non-Rock material. That’s what was happening and that’s what happened. Post-Rock has always been on the fringe, with blurred outlines and lending itself to those outside of conventional local scenes. Reykjavik, Montreal and Glasgow. These are some of the cities that some of Post-Rock’s most famous bands hail from and Explosions In The Sky are from a city even further off the beaten track; Midland, Texas – The hometown of George W. Bush. EITS have been active since the turn of the Millennium, and this week have released their 6th studio album Take Care, Take Care, Take Care.
The band themselves don’t consider EITS to be a ‘Post-Rock’ band but just plain ‘Rock’. However, if you traverse their back catalogue you’ll find beautiful 10min+ long instrumental soundscapes, drenched in reverb and delayed clean-guitar sounds. All of their albums show joy in the long-build dynamic change that is standard fare throughout the Post-Rock cannon. Whatever, the band may think EITS have produced some of the great Post-Rock albums so far.
Like Mogwai before them, EITS were an important factor in laying the foundations the genre, but now have broadened their horizons and expanded their sound. With their last album 2007’s All Of A Sudden I Miss Everyone we began to hear moments breaking away from the sound we’d become used to hearing. There was a deeper fuller sound, with more layers and perhaps a touch less melancholy, and that trajectory has continued with the new album. Their most famous album The Earth Is Not A Cold Dead Place was empty, bleak and cold and sparse, but Take Care, Take Care, Take Care isn’t like that at all.
‘Last Known Surroundings’ opens the album with distorted loops before braking out into a drum-heavy exploration of effected-guitar wails and bright melodies; still abstract but somehow more hopeful and positive than before, there’s even an acoustic rhythm at one point! By the end it could almost be an instrumental Bloc Party track in its pop beat driven joy. After 8 minutes the music blends directly into the more low key ‘Human Qualities’. It moves through a low, content rumble of pulsing drums and dreamy guitars. Explosions In The Sky are experts in giving each of their four members differing parts that all interact, and flow together; you’ll never find one guitar following the other.
‘Trembling Hands’, the next track, could almost be considered a single; released as a free digital download ahead of the album’s release and only clocking in at three-and-a-half minutes, it’s their closest to a pop hit yet. With powerful snare, distorted bass and layered jumpy guitars it could almost be an instrumental b-side from Foals’ last album. If there was a track that would open up the world of Post-Rock to a new audience – that wasn’t by Sigur Rós – then this would be it.
‘Be Comfortable, Creature’, like the names suggests is calming, and delicate, the soundtrack to an afternoon lying in a field – though you’d probably be reading an obscure Russian novel, if this was your choice of summer song. ‘Postcard From 1952’ is driven for the first half by a very straight-pop beat and simple guitar, the elusively builds and diverges, until before you’re away you’re in a classic EITS wall of distortion, crash-cymbal and intensity.
Like all their albums that have come before, Take Care, Take Care, Take Care is short in terms of the number of tracks you get – by track six we find ourselves at the albums close – but don’t think you’re being short changed, there is so much complexity and attention to detail that you’ll get a new experience every time you listen to the album. ‘Let Me Back In’ showcases the new evolved EITS in its darkest most pensive glory. With looped drums, and reverb drenched guitar, a little piano, and even what abounds like effected vocal samples, this album closes by bring the whole experience to an emotional climax, without for one moment being brash or obvious.
Without lyrics to guide you, music like this leaves the listener a chance to interpret the meaning and sentiment of the sound for themselves. Of course, the titles can give you a point towards the band’s thought process but nothing they say can compare the the personal feelings and though you can have when swimming in the expanse of this album. I make no claims that this album is perfect, but with the level of precision and intent, the purposefulness of every note, gesture and rhythm, I think it moves beyond a simple measure of quality and becomes purely about what you feel listening to them. If you like it, then continue to, and if you don’t then you’re missing out.
Released on 18th April 2011 courtesy of Bella Union