Review Summary: pg.lost remain fixated on a path well-trodden, but when the music is this good, does that matter?
"Key" is the latest album by Swedish post-rock band pg.lost. Since their excellent debut EP, "Yes I Am", pg.lost have been renowned for their dark, wistful atmosphere and expertly-crafted crescendos. What makes this band stand out is how incredibly well-produced their music is, and this hasn't changed for their latest album. pg.lost have a knack for creating intensely loud and powerful explosions without any sacrifice to the clarity and crispness of the music. This makes their songs extremely listenable, even as they're blowing your face clean off. Yes, this staple of pg.lost's music hasn't changed, but neither has a whole lot else, for better or worse.
"Key" maintains the same tone that has been present throughout the entirity of the band's catalogue. The music is dark, and at times aggressive, but with an oft-present air of hope and romance. "Vultures" fits this bill snugly, recalling songs such as "The Kind Heart of Lanigon" from early in the band's career. Though this song is uplifting, it's nothing that hasn't already been perfected, and even exhausted, by this same band in years prior. This familiarity will likely disappoint those who yearn for something new from their favourite European post-rock outfit, however the album's merits should not be understated -- pg.lost are still the masters of their craft. They may play the same game they've always played, but they've yet to be bested.
This isn't to say that no time at all has been spent exploring new avenues of sound in the three years since their last release. Album highlight "Terrain" delivers a fresh take on the tried and true pg.lost formula, bursting out of the gate with hard rock riffs and screeching bombast, before seemlessly transitioning into more pretty guitars and a funky drum beat reminiscent of Red Hot Chili Peppers' "The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie". This song is fast-paced and ever-so exhilerating, and doesn't let up. To mention Red Hot Chili Peppers in an atmospheric post-rock review might seem obscure, and it is, but that only serves as a testament to what pg.lost have achieved here. "Terrain" is aggressive, groovy and powerful -- with little doubt the best post-rock track of the year thus far.
Beyond "Terrain", though, "Key" is standard fare. Moreso than ever before does pg.lost's sound find itself amidst the generic; at more than one occasion are there moments that one might have professed were lifted straight from Explosions in the Sky's well-worn catalogue. Parts of "Spirits Stampede", "Sheaves" and "Gathering", in particular, are your usual showcase of how to make nice sounds out of pretty guitar melodies. These songs are very good, mind, and if this brand of luscious post-rock is to your liking, then you most certainly wont be disappointed.
Despite the occasional glimmer of something new from one of the genre's finest, "Key" remains fixated on a path well-trodden. pg.lost may one day hope push the boat out, but for now the anchor still drags along the seabed. When the music is this good, though, who needs drastic change?
Highlights: Terrain, Sheaves, Weaver.