Review Summary: complete mind rape
There's always a thin line between a band being unique to the point of forcing it and being annoying or being unique while still retaining a sense of properly being a band, letting everything flow around their sound. What I mean is that certain band's try too hard in creating something different and recognisable from their scene, and sometimes, it still works, but there are those bands that really don't seem to try, that can pull it off while just simply creating music, We Insist! do this superbly, and as a band, they display a charming sense that this is actually what makes their music so impressive, as demonstrated by this line from an interview:
“We try to be surprised by our own music, to make it sound unusual without ever forgetting that we need melodies and that we're writing songs...”
'The Babel Inside Was Terrible' comes together like a metaphorical car crash of an album, mixing jazz, math-rock, punk, post-hardcore, alt-rock, prog, a little metal and everything between into one mashed up hunk of music. To extend the metaphor to even more ridiculous levels, the car crash has actually come together to form something unique and strange but something that works, a fresh and innovative vehicle that drives just as well as any of it's other more reliable peers. 'The Babel Inside Was Terrible', while being somewhat schizophrenic and crazy just works as an album, there are proper songs on here that ebb and flow through their remarkably odd and unique rhythmic qualities and time-signatures to form fully cohesive movements.
One of We Insist!'s finest qualities is their capability to take a song from it's base unique quality and to develop the rest of it around that. 'Oakleaves' is constructed around it's math-y guitar licks and distant vocals to create a tense and nearly choking atmosphere, giving the song a unique quality that the rest of the album's songs differ with. Likewise, 'Our Countries' is built around it's catchy and melodic vocals that interplay with some simply stunning bass playing and gorgeously complex guitar work, the feel and mood is completely different from previous songs but it's brought together with the band's traditionally complex rhythmic work and erratic drumming.
Technically, 'The Babel Inside Was Terrible' is of the highest quality, with the bass and guitar work both being superbly complex and interesting. The tricky time signatures and odd rhythmic changes merely highlight the skill of the band. Furthermore, the presence of less traditional instruments such as organs and saxophones give it even more of a unique feel, also presenting a somewhat free-jazz mood in certain songs. It's this constant off course quality about the album that could make it really hard to keep up with, but We Insist! are as good songwriters as they are musicians, and the album isn't just an egotistical mash up of different genre's and quality musicianship, it's actually about the songs – and for an album of this technicality and uniqueness, you can't get much better praise than that.
Well maybe apart from this: 'The Babel Inside Was Terrible' is a god-damn cluster*** of awesome, get it.