Apricot Rail doesn't shy away from larger-than-life instrumental rock. It's just not a big priority.
The sun-splashed instrumental rock Apricot Rail delivers on its 2009 self-titled LP isn't all-bombast all the time. Rather, the Australian outfit structures carefully these colorful compositions, so that woodwinds, strings, and dusty organ sounds are as critically important to the final product as the countless treble-heavy guitar tracks. Backward-cycling loops are among the strong flourishes that line "Trout Fishing in America" or "Wadnama", where trumpets and clarinets help thicken the web of precious glockenspiel and clicking beats. With such an emphasis on these minuscule particulars, the Apricot Rail sound is less similar to Explosions in the Sky's All Of A Sudden... than it is to Múm on its 2000 debut, Yesterday Was Dramatic -- Today Is OK, although the grandiose, set-closing theatrics are firmly in place on a lot of this album. "The Parachute Failure", for example, just wouldn't be the same if Matt Saville's marching snares didn't give way to the digital delay-flecked climax that they do, and the choppy, potent framework of "Halfway House" wouldn't be as effective a closer if it weren't for all of the crash cymbals. At nearly six-and-a-half minutes, "Halfway House" begins somewhat like a prog-techno track, with prodding percussion and a micro patter of sound before everything comes together -- large and small -- in a development that showcases some of the most interesting moments this record has to offer. Apricot Rail does the Big Thing well, but these five talents just don't need to rely on it.