Explosions In The Sky – Take Care, Take Care, Take Care (Temporary Residence)

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by Victoria Birch

Good grief, are Explosions In The Sky still at it? Still peddling that well-worn dynamic? The BIG sounds, the small sounds, the emotionally indulgent push and pull that invites you to write your own words in accordance with those (overly?) familiar bombastic peaks and graceful lulls?

Indeed they are. But rather than induce a frustrated yawn, there’s something charming about Explosion In The Sky’s belligerence. Take Care, Take Care, Take Care finds the Austin quartet unhindered by the weight of expectations that demands they should ‘evolve’. Diligently ploughing the same narrow furrow, the band is still tinkering with the lyric-less expanse of sound that marked their arrival with 2000’s How Strange Innocence.

When Take Care sounds so similar to its five predecessors, there are plenty of people who will say ‘why bother.’ Surely there are more interesting long-players to spend your hard-earned hours illegally downloading?  Maybe, but that will only apply if you’re uninterested in the details, the fine points, the tiny nuggets of aural delights the band have clearly spent time finessing so this album may stand alone in Explosion In The Sky’s oeuvre.

If more of the same is likely to wane your appetite then move along.  The full stop of ‘Human Qualities’ is a bawling blister of noise. And as soon as its spoonfuls of rhythmic guitar start gathering pace, the ending becomes as obvious as mainstream rom-com, but not in a bad way. For one, that finale is no cheap payoff – the build-up is handled with enough skill and restraint to give rise to prickles of anticipation. The real find is the mid-section, a passage of soft beats that sound like distant shelling, the moan of ambiguous voices and a perfectly timed pause that ushers in the next half like a gentle sigh; 30 seconds that I could (and do) replay ad infinitum.

If you’re wont to enjoy the sound of a band paying attention to the small stuff then take a seat. You’ll love the way ‘Be Comfortable, Creature’ finishes by turning its key refrain inside out so the melody becomes stretched and contorted to the point of grotesqueness. You’ll be oh so pleased with the drums on ‘Trembling Hands’, drilled with mechanic precision but retaining levity — like a machine gun firing bullets made of cotton candy. And I know you’ve heard it all before but when ‘Let Me Back In’ roars at you after a period of gentle coaxing and cajoling, doesn’t it still fill your bones with that giddy mix of anxiety and exhilaration?

It’s a pleasure to dissect Take Care and find all these small treasures the band have planted. That doesn’t mean it’s a case of separating the wheat from the chaff. The over-arching structure is as appealing and as powerful as it ever was. It’s lived-in and over a decade old, but Explosions In The Sky know how to keep making subtle but irresistible additions. Their sixth release is definitely predictable, but it’s still a marvellous way to choose your own adventure.

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