Review Summary: Our innocence fades.
We were all children at one point or the other, unless you happen to be a robot. When childhood is at full swing, everything is beautiful and nothing really hurts. Naivety is taken in stride, and driving a toy car into an artificially constructed sandbox mountain is commonplace. It is rare that a child knows the horrors of the world, horrors like murder, rape, scams, and the global deficit. They slowly slip in and out of consciousness, permitting morning comes every day, as they hold faith that it will. They do not know the world in which we live, and for a time, life is innocent.
Then, that child grows up. Subjected to college, the workforce, taxes, meeting various people with numerous tragic or overly-exaggerated stories, and facing the eventual death of a few friends here and there due to car accidents or possibly drugs, the world is no longer so huge, it is no longer so innocent.
So, all seven billion of us, facing the early dawn each day as we rise for work, question why we are here. Every once in a blue moon, when stuck in traffic on the freeway, we start to grasp the subtle strands that lead to what our little time here may be, or what it should be. We push papers in glass boxes, under luminescent suns. We get pulled out of our cars after a fit of drunkenness, we cry at our bedsides when we know not where to go. Yet, then, we flip on the radio, or turn on the television. An announcer tells us the unemployment rates are improving, though we all know that to be a rather blatant lie. However, somehow, that deep voice over the speakers calms us, soothes us, and we go to bed, only to pursue the exact same thing the next morning.
The reader may be asking themselves how this has to do with Ten Kens
' third LP entitled Namesake
? Well, simply put, this album's sound is the shedding of innocent ignorance. Transitioning between beautiful, sprawling, guitar work and angelically dark vocals, Namesake
is everything that cannot be described. The third album by these Canadians bends genres, obliterating every preconceived notion that stood in their path. Tapestries of colorful instrument work backed by the brooding choir-like vocals of Dan Workman, drenching everything in an ethereal layer of beauty. Seamlessly, this beautiful innocence transforms into an infinite pool of darkness. Yet, the feeling is then layered in a slight coat of peace, churning out a record worthy of encompassing an emergence from childhood.
The true stand out on this release, which has been truly Ten Kens' most masterful aspect to their music, is their absolutely natural transitions. It is quite incredible to feel the emotion and genres included in each and every track ebb and flow as they do, so subtle as to feel nearly subconscious. From the nostalgic feelings of the aptly titled track, 'The Field Around Your Van' to the thick layer of unchanging darkness in 'Gently Used' Ten Kens truly traverse absolute genres. The influences here range from stoner rock to psychedelic, to synth-pop, to indie, and even dark ambiance at times. Often, while listening, I hear glimpses of Kayo Dot
and bands of the more avant-garde vein. This LP is beyond description, truly. I refrain from being hyperbolic, it is simply difficult to describe by throwing out any genres or descriptions, for it defies such definitions.
Ten Kens have matured beyond their years. In only three albums, they have reached a pinnacle of music often unattained by many critically acclaimed or long-winded musical endeavors. Their efforts on Namesake
are absolutely mind boggling. It has been stated in a couple other reviews of this beautiful monster that this is a thinking man's stoner rock. I suppose I would have to agree with that. The wool has been removed from our eyes, and our childhood's ignorance is fading. We are seeing the world that lay before, what mankind is, and Ten Kens is there, crowding our airspace, reaching their hand around our shoulders all the while. Ten Kens are here to stay.