Review Summary: The Feel-Good Album of 2010
I know what you’re thinking, or at least I think I do, but allow me to explain. Lights Out Asia’s music isn’t uplifting. Most adjectives applied to their albums are synonyms for pensive or transcendent. Their last record recalled (to me, at least), Cold War-era paranoia and existentialism, qualities which made a totally-not-ironic cry of “Where is your god now? He isn’t here…” completely acceptable, not to mention pensive and transcendent. Tanks and Recognizers
was a little more glossy, but still very much a meditative entity; whereas Eyes Like Brontide
is a dark, murky record, Tanks and Recognizers
is polished to shine in contrast to its lurking, overwhelming loneliness. Garmonia
’s “Yo Mama” joke notwithstanding, Lights Out Asia are not what one might call peppy
, and In the Days of Jupiter
further affirms that opinion by electing to conjure an atmosphere not dissimilar to the vast expanse of nothingness that is the universe.
But I re-assert: In the Days of Jupiter
is the feel-good album of the year.
Why? Because post rock sucks, and sucks so hard that its suckiness has permeated into anything written about
post rock, which makes what was once an enjoyable hobby of mine- writing about some of my favorite post rock music- suck. For this, I partially blame Mono and Do Make Say Think. Both bands severely hurt the chance that there would be anything particularly important released by anyone other than them, Godspeed, Mogwai, or Explosions in the Sky by releasing- in the same year, no less!- perfect albums bookending the post rock binary. Hymn to the Immortal Wind
makes any standard four-piece’s attempt to sound symphonic moronic since Mono actually did it with a fucking symphony
while Other Truths
is, less poetically, too awesome to try and replicate. But I also lay the blame on the bands themselves; so many post rock press releases and Myspaces simply beg
to have the bands they represent associated with the big players, so much so that they’ve made the big players the only groups that matter. With originality being long-since abandoned, Post Rock has become, in essence, Golf: it’s only really
important to anyone with casual interest if Tiger Woods is involved, only, in this analogy, Efrim Menuck is a Nike-endorsed sex addict.
Yet in the face of these odds, in the face of the style of music they make being passé, Lights Out Asia keep making great fuck
ing albums. Their latest, In the Days of Jupiter
, is another in a long line of awesome Lights Out Asia records, right down to the eerie samples, lonely textures, and awkward, possibly unintentional, un-ironic pop-culture references, only now with more Chris Schafer and more synths. This is what makes it good: it’s all we could ever ask for from these guys. Lights Out Asia’s sound isn’t predicated on climaxes or ambient textures, but it works both styles with reserve. Jupiter
isn't any different, only this time, instead of the Cold War or various elements of Winter, Lights out Asia head to Space to capture their isolation. The band’s robotic drumbeats and manufactured sounds match well with the album’s overarching theme of the universe as a representation of alienation and solitude (think the first 40 seconds of Blink-182’s “Asthenia” extended and expanded upon to create a full album), but this is essentially what Lights Out Asia do best; they create one specific atmosphere through the same bag of tricks, and every time, it’s beautiful.
And sure, they’re nothing spectacular, conventionally; if you’ve heard one Lights Out Asia album, you’ve pretty much heard them all, but that makes one no less worthy than another. In the Days of Jupiter
is Eyes Like Brontide
is Tanks and Recognizers
, and they all are essential. Lights Out Asia don’t progress, but they do
do what we all wish some bands would do: they stay true to their original, wonderful sound, and they keep making awesome music every time out because of it. Will this canonize them? Of course not. But I don’t think post rock needs another hero; it would just be nice if the disparity between The Players and The Suck wasn’t so egregiously huge, and Lights Out Asia continue to sit nicely in the middle, a nice reminder of what it’s like to have faith in something I once unquestioningly believed in. And that makes me feel good.