Review Summary: Archive's hybrid theory and a crowning achievement!
Archive has always been a band quite unique and peculiar in the contemporary music scene. Easily blending a bunch of influences (trip-hop, rock, electronic, prog), the frequent lineup change (in their early days) made any definition of the band a bit risky. However, the arrival of Craig Walker for the starling You All look the Same
to Me back in 2002 greatly helped forge the style and pave the way for what would be Archive two best albums.
His technique was indeed a major shift in Archive's approach, first in the way that he uses his vocals. Walker has a wide range and he manages to deliver in all type of situation. The quality of the singing is best seen when you can feel the anger eating him inside in the mesmerizing F**k U
or Get Out
. The singing of these song is so real and so powerful; it's like he’s screaming directly at us. The quality, yet simplicity of the lyrics, is just as reveling as the music in a perfectly fitted ensemble.
Can't believe you were once just like anyone else
Then you grew and became like the Devil himself
Pray to God I think of a nice thing to say
But I don't think I can, so *** you anyway
However, the album wouldn't have the same impact if these angry parts weren't mixed with some great melody to make a balance. Songs like Sleep
are perfect examples of that. Somehow they manage to smooth things out after the most powerful songs, before kicking back in again somewhere through the songs just so we could be ready for some more hardcore playing.
Another thing that I like about Archive is that capacity they have to find a simple and awesome beat or mood, and repeat it over again for some times (Get Out
). I strangely always linked them to Daft Punk
with this capacity they have to find simple hook and just hold on to it for the perfect amount of time before shifting to something else.
Out the door
Out the door
You’ve become an intolerable bore
Before your voice it brings me to tears
If Pink Floyd
is clearly an influence on this album (in the mood and arrangements), the length of the songs (compare to some on You All Look the same to me
) makes a totally different record in the end. We still see some proggy influences on songs like Waste
with its 4 minutes intro building up a mood Echoes
style, but then drum kicks in and we're back at the angry vocals and beat repetition. Feels like Daft Punk
has took over for Waters and Gilmour halfway through.
The one thing that makes Archive unique though is their style and it’s at its peak on Noise
. They somehow manage to blend electronic music (trip-hop) and rock in a way that I've rarely seen before. It's not eletro-rock, it's electro AND rock. Just take the first song noise for instance, you start with this fast-shredded clean-guitar riff, but as soon as the drum hops in, song change and we’re just destabilize.
And it's in the contrast - the angry and the melodic, the electro and the rock - the heavy and the mellow - that we see how powerful this album is. There is a song for every time of the day and every emotion of the week on this record and that's why it's one of those album that, on top of being Archive's best, stand the test of time 10 years after it's release.