Never before has this reviewer received an album packaged so very personally: the liner notes are a hand-torn piece of paper, the CD case sealed with packing tape, the art adoringly pressed on the front—it leaves quite an impression. This homemade feel isn’t felt anywhere in the music, however, pulling off an Explosions in the Sky impersonation that is so good, you’ll mistake it for Explosions themselves. Yet there is a key difference, and that’s the “singing” in question, which is really multi-instrumentalist David Smith delivering a monologue written by band member Phil Hodgson, and layered in as if it was sampled from some strange British etiquette vinyl from the mid-‘70s. This strange technique works half the time, but sometimes just gets in the way of the swirling, cinematic soundscapes that Smith composes. Nowhere is it so lifting than the word-less, swirling closer “Which Animal Is Most Untrustworhy?”. It’s hard to follow in the footsteps of the post-rock instrumental giants (even naming yourself after a Godspeed! You Black Emperor album might seem risky to some), but here’s to a debut album that only wants to live up to its influences, which it does in spades.
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