Review Summary: At what point is progression too much progression?
Progression and adaptation is paramount to the survival of nearly everything. Without keen awareness of your surroundings and necessity of change, there can never be improvement and without improvement one is destined to fade away nearly as quickly as they arrived. But this is not to say that change always perpetuates survival; even if a band is to adapt and progress in a positive manner they can still cease to exist much before they should; The Little Explorer is such a band, as 2006 was their final year together. Although this album was recorded in 2006 it never saw the light of day until late last month, when Crash of Rhinos decided to dredge up this previously unreleased album. Although this is a definite progression in sound and a glimpse into what Crash of Rhinos would produce, it seems almost too much of a jump for a band that released such an emotionally explosive album only three years prior. While Siderali serves as a perfect stepping stone between The Little Explorer and Crash of Rhinos, it does not quite live up to illustrious Italian title.
With The Little Explorer’s sophomore album Siderali it is almost easier to list what has remained the same, as these constants are far outnumbered by changes. But this is in no way to be taken negatively. One of the few things that stood the test of three years is The Little Explorer’s love for instrumental tracks. There are three on this album, although these tracks would feel out of place on their first record as they expound upon post-rock tendencies far more than previous releases. Album bookends Harmonics
share similar acoustic guitar lines, with the former perfectly implementing a glockenspiel. Album highlight Glued
is also fully instrumental and highlights exactly why this young band had such vast potential with its sailing harmonies and driving instrumentation.
The previously mentioned changes are, in contrast, nearly innumerable; the spastic instrumentation is traded in for layered guitars, the raw tone is replaced by warm production and the harsh vocals are seldom employed, giving way to the welcome addition of clean vocals. Along with this addition of clean vocals there is a newfound prominence placed upon lyrics. Where with their debut it would not be uncommon to find songs with only one or two lines, Siderali finds nearly every song containing full sets of lyrics. With this emphasis on lyrics it would make sense that song parts are repeated less than on their self-titled debut. With more words to sing and shout, songs progress without over-repetition, creating songs devoid of conventional structures. A Fork in the Road
introduces listeners to this shift if ideologies, as it starts off with chaos and slowly and nonchalantly leads the listener to the niche the rest of the album remains in. But the biggest deviation is without a doubt the shift in vocal styles. The harsh vocals have all but disappeared, leaving clean vocals the spotlight. This is a change that seemed almost inevitable, as highlights of their previous works often included clean vocals, although this drastic change is surely excessive. But this excess of clean vocals mange to make the rare occurrences of harsh vocals to seem all that much more emotional than The Little Explorer has ever been.
Living begets change, and no more is this adage on display than the life span of The Little Explorer. A tumultuous life span of only three years, in which a label picked them up and not soon after decided to severe ties, lead to obvious changes in the young men of The Little Explorer. But through the hardships and near superfluous progression, The Little Explorer still managed to go out and a relative high note, perfectly segueing to their future projects.