Review Summary: Why don't you scream your own words
Emo music is enjoying a revival of near epic proportions. Bands affixing the often maligned genre of emo upon their works have been popping out of the wood works, releasing an album or two before subsequently breaking up or fading back into obscurity. One such band that decided to call it quits far too early in their career was The Little Explorer, a band active from 2003 until their demise in 2006. Although the members of The Little Explorer went on to form the critically acclaimed Crash of Rhinos, the sound found on their 2003 debut was never expounded upon, as Crash of Rhinos dropped the harsh vocals and focused more on the post-rock aspect densely implemented by The Little Explorer. The Little Explorer’s self-titled debut is an album that, while not altogether groundbreaking, was a welcome addition to the scene.
The album itself does not deviate from the basic principles found in the emo movements of the early 2000’s; the style found throughout the eight track album seldom crosses over to the ‘skramz’ era, instead opting to focus on the post-rock side of emo. Tracks such as Sense of Smell
or Blood Runs Blue
have extended instrumental breaks, the latter being an entirely instrumental track encompassing delayed guitars and tremolo picking layered with ‘spacy’ effects throughout. Songs constantly ebb and flow, making for distinct highs and lows on nearly every track. While there are only eight tracks to be found on their debut album, The Littler Explorer opts to let every track breath and realize its full potential; of the eight tracks only one track is less than a four minutes while there are four tracks that come in over five minutes. Each song shifts tempos seamlessly sans inhibition, making for an album full to the brim with surprises.
The aforementioned instrumental track is not the only example of a break from the harshness and discord that is The Little Explorer. Play Softer
starts off soft, building to a distorted and dissonant passage before tapering off as softly as it had begun. Most songs do indeed follow this pattern; starting soft before building meticulously to a climax with a wall of crunching guitars before ending in the same manner as they begun. Although this is an approach to songwriting that may seem clichéd or abused, The Little Explorer came out in 2003, a period in which this approach was only just starting to expand. To further exemplify the melodic side of The Little Explorer, Cloud Cover
is a song that exclusively uses clean vocals and relaxed instrumentation. A booming track that exemplifies the songwriting prowess of the members, Cloud Cover stands out as a definite highlight track, not only for its own performance but the fact that it sets the stage perfectly for the spastic album closer Turner’s Dance.
It has been more than ten years since The Little Explorer released their debut self-titled album, but the record still feels as fresh as it did a decade prior. The vocals are gut-wrenching, the guitars snake their way throughout songs without pause and there is an absolute sense of passion on every single song; it truly seems that there is ‘something for everyone’ on this release. The fact that even ten years later an album can still seem as fresh and vivacious as the day it was first produced is surely indicative of the caliber of musical talent present during The Little Explorer’s humble existence, a caliber seldom matched by their peers.