Artist: Explosions in the Sky
Album: All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone
Comments: How exactly do I go about reviewing a post rock album, especially one like an Explosion in the Sky album? Going song by song is out the window, because each song is part of a larger theme, like movements in a symphony. And I can’t comment on the song writing, because there are no words. No, all I can really say about this new album is that it’s good music to compress to, it’s good music to write to, and it follows the same formula that all Explosions in the sky records follow.
For the uninitiated, let my try to explain the genre of post rock. On the surface, the simplest explanation is that it is rock songs without words. However, that is not really accurate as it paints a picture of 3 and a half minute rock songs with no words, like a Foo Fighters song with the words removed, and who would want to listen to that? So post rock is more than just wordless choruses. Good old Wikipedia claims that post rock is characterized by the “use of rock instrumentation for non-rock purposes”. I suppose that is true. However, I think that it is more accurate to say that post rock that works to convey emotion without the use of words; to make someone feel something without having to tell them what to feel. And for music that is based on catharsis, no band creates that landscape better than Explosion in the Sky.
More than anything else, Explosions in the Sky arrange their albums in an almost orchestral manner. As I said in the first paragraph, each song could be taken on it’s own, but the album is more effective not as a collection of songs, but as a series of movements in a much larger work. The album is almost a narrative; each song independently creates some tension, often with repetitious guitar work and minimal rhythm, before exploding into a climactic and cathartic chorus and coming back down, just in time to start the next chapter of the same story. The only way to really get the full experiences is to listen to the album in one sitting, and let the story wash over you. Then, the crescendos and climaxes, the risings and fallings really get a chance to set in.
I don’t want to try to categorize what one should be feeling when listening to this album, but I get a sense of tragic beauty. Explosions in the Sky have always made records that focus on harmony melodies to create very beautiful musical landscapes, but this record has a much darker edge to it. It is hard to explain in print without lyrics to back it up, but the use of more drums and electronic fuzz give the album a very dark beauty. This is normal for Explosions in the Sky; their focus has always been to craft songs that songs that can sound like melancholy works of art; they use their instruments to tell you that it’s dark right now, but don’t worry, because the sun is coming up tomorrow.
The only problem with this album, this band, and this genre in general is that it is based on a formula or creating and relieving tension. And while it may sound nice, it’s still a formula, and even the best formulas get old after a while. If this album is not creating the emotion that it intents, there is no way that it will hold the listeners attention; if you are not drawn in by the catharsis of the album, it just sounds long and repetitious. Another problem I have with this record is that it sounds almost exactly like one of their previous albums, “The Earth is Not a Cold Dead Place”. It’s not a huge problem because both albums are beautiful sounding works, but it just seems to show that Explosions in the Sky might be running out of ideas.
More conventional bands will tell you what their message is. They will explain it in very plain terms, and they will tell you how you should feel about it. Explosions in the Sky don’t do this; they give you only the idea of emotion, then leave you to figure out the message yourself. And as a musical guide through a journey of our own emotions, “All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone” is a success. It’s not something you can really just throw on and listen to, but when the time is right, this will be an album that you will fall in love with.
Rating: I don’t have one
Key Tracks: It’s pointless to try to isolate a single track.
Worth The Money: Yeah, this is an album that I would recommend.