For many, post-rock is a genre that’s worn out its welcome. What was once a music scene that cleverly subverted typical expectations has now become, well, bands that sound like Mogwai or Explosions in the Sky. And while Maybeshewill’s third LP I Was Here for a Moment, Then I Was Gone doesn’t do much in changing the formula now ingrained in the genre (the title is a dead giveway), it does do a great job of reinvigorating seemingly unsaveable tropes. With the longest song clocking at six and a half minutes, Maybeshewill do a lot of work cramming in the emotive power of the post-rock composition into shorter runtimes. The result, quite surprisingly, is brilliant.
The natural tendency for a group writing instrumental guitar music of this type is to let the songs rise and fall over a prolonged length, as were each song a journey. This seems intuitive, after all: if a piece isn’t left to breathe, then how can it say what it needs to say? But Maybeshewill doesn’t sacrifice this power of the crescendo on I Was Here for a Moment. Instead, the band doesn’t let the tracks amble, getting directly to the point right when they need to. The group doesn’t feel the need to write some calm-before-the-storm buildup to the grand finale “To the Skies from a Hillside”. A short introduction gives way to a quasi-symphonic prog metal crunch in almost no time. What’s even more impressive is how emotionally stunning these tracks are — there’s never the feeling things are rushed. The gorgeous, autumnal melancholy overarching the record stays consistent throughout, with each song adding its own voice to this powerful mini-symphony. One of the key strengths used to amplify this mood is the keyboard work of Matthew Daly, which works wonders in not letting the guitars dominate this affair.
This economy of composition works wonders for I Was Here for a Moment, showing that sometimes what is needed isn’t to throw out the playbook, but to rework flawed, outdated strategies. The thought that what’s needed for post-rock to be successful in 2012 is to be more accessible may seem like the counterintuitive delusions of someone looking to land a spot on the Billboard 200, but this album is evidence of exactly the opposite. In making a sort of “pop post-rock”, Maybeshewill shows that there’s hope on the horizon for those still spinning their worn copy of Young Team in hopes of something better.