Review Summary: loss of guitarist provides Red Sparowes with a softer, more emotional sound.
Red Sparowes has always come off as one of the more literate post rock bands. While their record concepts have ached of forced thoughtfulness the music the group produces has never felt the least bit cluttered. Most post rock groups simply attempt to bend the minor scale as far as it will go while Red Sparowes take a much more tonal approach to their sound. At times this works brilliantly creating beautiful soundscapes with unanticipated twists. Other times the band is left sounding extremely unmoving; example being their first LP which while interesting suffered due to its seemingly useless noise interludes. Luckily "Aphroisms" suffers none of the group’s flaws from their debut instead mimicking the more developed side of their second LP. As post rock bands have become a dime a dozen it is always great to hear a band be as good as Red Sparowes at their own little niche of the genre. Important to Red Sparowes is the sophistication of their songs not the textural beauty and this is why they come off as a more intelligent version of groups like Explosions in the Sky and Russian Circles.
"Aphorisms" is an important record for Red Sparowes because of the loss of previous guitarist Josh Graham. Graham is known for his textural tone as well as his involvement in Neurosis and Battle of Mice. In my opinion he is one of the more successful post metal guitarists due to his ability to craft dynamically heavy yet melodic displays. This helped Red Sparowes in the past as the metal edge was beefed up in part because of Graham. On "Aphorisms" we can feel the change of sound yet it doesn't come off as a bad one. Red Sparowes have just grown a little lighter as well as a little more rhythm based. This change may have nothing to do with the departure of Graham but whatever the reason "Aphorisms" is a great EP showcasing Red Sparowes evolving sound. Drummer David Clifford provides a dynamically interesting performance that helps blend the soft and loud changes effortlessly. Guitarists Bryant Meyer and Andy Arahood create gorgeous melodies that echo traces of math rock complexities. “Error Has Turned Animals to Men, and to Each the Fold Repeats” is a perfect example with its hallowing guitar laden conclusion being both cathartic and compositionally developed. In all honesty this EP probably represents the group at their most efficient. The band has honed in the lengths of their songs and put a more prominent effort in being a little more emotionally and it pays off in heaps.
Fans of Red Sparowes that have yet to hear this record may be feeling a little anxious do to how radical I've kind of implied it sounds. To be honest this simply isn't as vastly different from their other material as I imply. The lengthy song titles are here with the opener being label as "We Left the Apes to Rot, But Find the Fang Grows Within" and the basic structure of the songs are the same as before. Said opener is a trip between a mathy introduction that forms its way into one of the band's most gorgeous sections through a transition of white noise. "Aphorisms" comes off as a record where the band is using the same pieces as always just sort of mixing up how those pieces are arranged. This philosophy reveals itself to be both the records strength and flaw. In terms of the Red Sparowes discography "Aphorisms" should probably be labeled as the most cohesive piece, but in terms of the entire genre of post rock the group is simply not doing anything original here. The band is simply a very good example of modern post rock and if you are approaching the record with anything but that in mind be prepared for a disappointment.