Review Summary: Yet another screamo record of high quality destined to go unnoticed.
A slew of good bands have withered away, been washed down the drain lately. Tension stings some music, it seems. For better or worse, tension in the band has always been one of those pesky characteristics... like oil in water, it rises to the surface, makes itself known. Take a look at, well, any band that creates an album in the midst of a breakup. I wish I could point to Decline
with an unwavering finger, claiming that Archives displays this. As is the case with most music listened to end on end,things just aren’t that simple. Rather, Decline
shows its true colors. No, not purple and black... but a very grandiose and calculated, passionate and bleak blend of post-rock and screamo that creates something truly spectacular.
Archives are relatively unknown, but they exhibit many of the same brilliant qualities of their more prominent counterparts overseas, Funeral Diner, Love Like... Electrocution, among many others. It becomes easy to attribute the disparate levels of fame to Archives’ origin, Scotland. Not to accuse the band of being trite or unoriginal; but needless to say, it’s been done before. Hence, I always find myself asking myself the same question every time I hear a post-rock/screamo fusion: “What sets Archives apart from the slew of other talented bands in this particular facet of today’s scene?” Decline
answers, “Not only do I adhere to the highest quality of said genre-combination, I do so with a certain flair. This can most likely be imputed to the sheer beauty of the post-rock melodies naturally dispersed among the unique, anguishing screams... all the while maintaining a level of control and prudence, exhibiting just the right amount of anguish combine resonating screams with-” Alright!
... smartass, let’s not get too ahead of ourselves.
, while it can be long-winded at times, performs beautifully when it comes to the crux of the sound they embody with pride- blending chaos and beauty. Archives aren’t entirely reliant on screams, though. Instead, the backbone often comes in form of the whispery melodies that accompany Decline
. Archives impress with the unique ability to mesh together elements like a mad scientist. The difference lies not in the outcome, but their method. Instead of a “throw it against the wall and see what sticks!” attitude, Archives embody a deliberate and controlled intensity. This
is why it’s so surprising that the band was undergoing a break-up during the recording of Decline
. The album all sounds perfectly constrained, like they’re holding back from screaming too loud, or playing too fast. This facet of the sound gives way to a theme of music that feels more intelligent in nature. While I mean to take nothing away from their more chaotic counterparts, Archives handily express a mastery of songwriting and control that gives way to a listenable and interesting album throughout, without any sore spots or sore ears.
“Skvotter” marks the beginning of an album jam-packed of chilling screams dispersed intermittently between melodies stolen from the grasp of Mike Kinsella’s imagination. “Divine Circuitry” closes a record from an ephemeral, semi-obscure, Scottish screamo band that had better work up their sleeves in the future. Nevertheless, Decline
stands as their lone footprint; and while it may not be deep in originality, it makes up for in tremendous, outstanding execution.