Review Summary: Thanks to new departures and sonic experiments, 65daysofstatic create their best album since their debut.
When I found out that 65daysofstatic were opening for The Cure on a US tour, I got both really excited and really confused. The Fall of Math
(despite my amateur, immature review of it four years ago) is one of my favorite albums of the decade--the magnum opus of the group and of the niche subgenre of post-rock that they operate in. Since then, their material seemed like feeble attempts to recreate that success. While producing some great songs, neither of their next two albums came to near the level of consistency and excellence that The Fall of Math
achieved so easily.
Their tour with The Cure marks a definite transition in the band’s style and aesthetic. Just a month before that tour began, 65days released an EP featuring two remixes of the song “The Distant and Mechanized Glow of European Dance Parties”, along with two other unreleased tracks. The most talked about track, and clearly the focus of the EP, was the first remix that took the song and made it as close to a club banger as 65aysofstatic could possibly muster. Their later released live album Escape from New York
, while focused on old material, featured two jams based on techno and drum’n’bass. It seemed that the band was ready to finally break out of the post-rock label they resent so much.
Now, in 2010, in a new decade, 65daysofstatic release We Were Exploding Anyway
, a definitive turning point from the band that results in their best album since The Fall of Math
. We Were Exploding Anyway
completely removes any math rock tendencies, and the glitch sounds only appear as little nuances in the back of what is, in the end, a decidedly anthemic and melodic album. The press release cites new influences--including Daft Punk, house, and IDM--that make a huge difference in the band’s compositional style. Instead of focusing on powerful riffs and complex breakdowns, the album focuses on dynamic contrast, memorable melody, and even danceable rhythms.
In some ways, this pigeonholes the band further into the post-rock genre. The centerpiece of the album is “Come to Me”, featuring none other than Robert Smith of The Cure, and it grows as organically as any Explosions in the Sky track. From the ambient beginnings, finally falling into discernible rhythm with a music box theme, to its final release and resolution into a surprisingly beautiful synth string chorale, “Come to Me” is easily the most “post-rock” song the band has ever composed.
But take a closer listen to that track and the album as a whole, and the influence that makes the album a winner is the aforementioned dance influences. The energetic “Dance Dance Dance” builds into a tribal beat that would make Buraka Som Sistema proud, taking the group’s understanding of rhythmic intricacy and placing it into a dance music context. Melodies build on top of the rhythm to make something that not only pleases old 65daysofstatic fans but also entices new listeners.
Yet, the best tracks on the album combine the old tendencies of 65daysofstatic--the cathartic qualities that made “I Swallowed Hard, Like I Understood” so powerful--with the more accessible influences that run rampant on the new album. No track better demonstrates this than “Go Complex”, a combination of the dance bass on every song on the album and the cathartic guitar riffage and complex beat-making of previous albums, even if the song (and, in fact, nearly the entire album) remains in 4/4 time throughout its duration. Early singles “Weak04” and “Crash Tactics” also use this combination of material to great effect, but neither reaches the darkness and dynamic contrast of “Go Complex.”
Other tracks on the album continue to experiment; the album closer “Tiger Girl”, delves directly into techno with a four-on-the-floor beat keeping the song in tact for its 10-minute duration. Despite the techno rhythm, the song uses that same organic post-rock growth of “Come to Me”, and the effect is extremely effective, even if it takes far too long to reach the point of climax. What makes We Were Exploding Anyway
so impressive is that despite the many different types of departure 65daysofstatic takes, they do it all with flair and consistency. Hopefully, the band will grow from here, and make their new sound's equivalent of The Fall of Math