Bands evolve all the time. It usually comes pretty naturally, and we don’t tend to notice it all too much or all too suddenly when it happens. In the case of Explosions in the Sky however, things are a bit more jarring. They have done the 10 minute-long no-lyrics post-rock epic (all hyphens intentional) so well for the vast majority of their non-soundtrack discography. 2003’s The Earth is Not a Cold Dead Place took listeners on a ride through five tracks, each with its own place in a lyric-less yet oddly compelling narrative journey. Why change a thing?
“Clear eyes, full hearts…” this is not! In fact, nothing about this shares even a hint of similarity with the band’s previous work, non-soundtrack or otherwise. “Disintegration Anxiety” is a cold track that starts off with an ominous and instrumentally sparse minute-long intro. Although a nice change of pace, the intro doesn’t quite compare to that of the band’s previous “First Breath After Coma“, an intro that slowly but surely played a much more effective rising action to its instrumental climax. Instead, “Disintegration Anxiety” seems to lurk for over a minute as if waiting with the listener for the song to start. Once it does however, thing get different fast. An energetic guitar loop coupled with some distorted drums bring the track’s “cool factor” to a pretty solid high. Something about this combination is just so satisfying, which is what makes it a little disappointing that these segments are balanced with a relatively equal amount of downtime for the remainder of the track. When the energy is switched on, the track delivers powerful and punchy satisfaction. When the energy is switched off however, we’re left with spooky noises and not much else to chew on. It’s not the most inconsistent thing in the world, but given that balance is something EITS has done so well for so long, one has to wonder what exactly The Wilderness is gonna sound like later this year.