Review Summary: If, by the end of 2007, this isn't considered one of the year's best, then we're in for one hell of a year.
There's a little record store in my town called Grooves. While it's not the most popular place to buy music and only has one store, it's still one of the best sources for music that I've come across. The staff is incredibly friendly, the selection is wonderful and it's overall atmosphere is much more real and down-to-earth than most chain stores. Asides from great selection and clean and organized store, the thing that I like most about this particular store is that you don't have to be a long-time customer to feel like you're at home. There aren't any membership cards you have to fill out, you know everybody's name right off the bat and, hell, it's just plain fun to go back to.
One of the recent purchases I made there was Do Make Say Think's latest album, You, You're A History In Rust. Strangely, the vibe I get from the store from which I purchased it can be transmitted through this album itself. While the band has been around for about 12 years now, I felt really warm and comfortable with the band right off the bat, whereas it might take a while to get into other bands of similar musical quality (See: Godspeed You! Black Emperor
, Jaga Jazzist
). This is one of the reasons why I consider this a great album, it seems familiar and comfortable even when you're just getting into it.
But that's just one of the many reasons why this album is incredible. The music itself is almost flawlessly portrayed throughout the whole album, going from sleek, melancholy, and to a certain extent progressive indie-rock ("A With Living", which ends with a beautiful sea of voices breaking through the walls of sound created by mere guitars, drums and a horn or two) to crunched guitars, epically subtle pianos, blankets of miscellaneous noise and upbeat jazz drums ("Executioner Blues", which could be the height of the album due to it's spectacular shifts in mood throughout). The band covers their sound well and does every genre portrayed justice, but it's best when they decide to give it their own twist of un-conventional post-rock instruments, such as trumpets, marimba and vibes. On songs like "You, You're Awesome" and "The Universe!", the band finds a perfect balance between sheer chaos and beautifully controlled noise rock, all blended up into a chaotic mess of instruments, never seeping below sheer beauty and grace even when at ear-splitting volume. The music is so warm and loud, it's hard not to feel like you're actually standing inside of it. Something absolutely wonderful and involving, needless to say.
Involvement might seem like a rather generous term sometimes, though. Occasionally, the music seems so distant that it's incredibly hard for the listener to really understand it, let alone relate to it. Not to say that's a bad thing, but rather a wonderful feat by the band. "A Tender History in Rust" remains absolutely beautiful and glacial, with the acoustic guitar playing a beautiful harmony that might sound welcome in Middle Earth, creating a delicate and poignant state for the listener to feel trapped inside it's simplistic beauty. "Herstory of Glory" takes the same approach, but after the acoustic settling is established, the song lurches out into a rather spacey jam, with frequent trips to different genres such as fast but downbeat jazz, indie-rock and powerful crescendo rock. If I were to have one complaint about the album, is that some songs just end way too soon, especially since the ideas the band has are so expressive and open to interpretation that it's a let-down to see that they only take it to a certain level. For instance, the jazzier moments on the album aren't overcome with trumpet, jazz brushes and stand-up bass, but rather a more modern, thoughtful and, essentially, moving attack on the genre. The opener, the piano laced "Bound to Be That Way" could've easily stretched on for twenty minutes without getting tiring, but it's also accepted at a steady eight minutes. Still, one can't help but imagine. But the music itself is so absorbing to the listener, it's still a sheer wonder when you listen to it, regardless of a couple "what-ifs".
To be honest, this is a masterpiece. There isn't a single sub-par moment on this album, and the band takes numerous approaches to a variety of genres and, somehow, comes up with a sound all their own. Attacks of swirling noise, a delicate backdrop of instrumental whirs and a large slate of sounds to inspire "wows", this album is certainly variable, fun and quite easy and relaxing to sit through, something not always common with the genre. But in the end, this is an exemplary album that never fails to bring something new to the table and take it to places far off in the distance. The album sounds like it's gradually collapsing throughout, with an occasional sense of agony sprinkled here and there, but it's overall feel is that of triumph. Highly recommended.
Thanks for reading,