Review Summary: Extra Life creates another unique and complicated record.
Describing any relations to Extra Life's sound is a pointless task; to attempt to break down the various influences of this group would be like trying to transpose a painting into pixels. The band's previous record 'Secular Works' set a precedent for 'Made Flesh' as some of the best avant-garde music in a city that has recently been highlighted by artists like Zs and Dirty Projectors. Perhaps this makes sense, with Charlie Looker involved in both of those groups, as well as numerous others. "Secular Works" obtained its sound from lengthy, sparse arrangements that were rhythmically engaging, but it was maybe too difficult in its melodic content. "Made Flesh" sort of obtains the obvious, with the rhythms taking a back seat to more melodic content. Previously released 'Black Hoodie' is rearranged, featuring saxophones and a structure similar to that of Dave Longstreth's more accessible work. 'The Ladder' acts as a more immediate and concise 'I'll Burn' (a highlight from "Secular Works") enabling time for midi wind instruments, an a cappella section and numerous violin sounds. 'Head Shrinker', the album's first single, is bridged with a saxophone solo that sounds tweaked with echo and delay.
The truth is that this record works because of how intricate it is. Every listen is highlighted by some new little part to digest - subtle violins in 'Easter', backing melodies in 'One of Your Whores', each track has so many different layers that they are constantly surprising. "Made Flesh" also has managed to adjust Extra Life's sound to make sense alongside the more avant-pop coming out of New York at the moment. Not necessarily part of the Grizzly Bear or Dirty Projectors scene; rather they seem like the opposite of that coin. Every layered vocal or guitar piece is somewhat off, dissonant, or ugly. That isn't to say that Extra Life's music isn't pretty or well put together, instead they focus on how tones collide with each other and the subtlety of dynamic shifts. 'Made Flesh' has put Extra Life into the stratosphere of other highbrow avant-garde rock groups such as Kayo Dot and Time of Orchids. All unequal in their uniqueness and constantly pushing the lines of what genre and popular music is.