Review Summary: The antithetical bridge to nowhere.
A faith that’s untested is a shaky stepping stone. The band members of Bleach however must have done plenty of soul searching during the creation of their fifth record Astronomy. Midway through record completion the rhythm section found out their brother wouldn’t return alive from his tour in Iraq. What resulted is a unique record in Bleach’s discography. New layers of pensive thought are filtered through the music of an otherwise fun loving band resulting in their most affecting record.
Kind of surprisingly thankfulness and graciousness are the overarching themes here. The band, very understandably, could have walked a much darker path while experiencing such turmoil, sadness and doubt. However with songs leaning towards perseverance and joy ascending to the forefront the band creates powerful music and cathartically becomes better for it.
Normally Bleach play somewhere between alternative rock and pop punk but on here there’s no room for this middle ground. The dichotomy between them kicking out the jams and impassioned ballads in cavernous. In fact there’s more ballads here than at a hair metal tribute show. Luckily those songs like Jaded and Tired Heart never veer into disingenuous territory. Every rose does have its thorn. No matter how heartfelt these songs can be its good to know the band is never too far away from cranking the amps again.
What gives a lot of songs their value besides the lyrics is how the band creates these memorable bridges. Instead of simply creating basic C-sections for these songs many of the tracks shift pace and dynamics entirely during the bridge ascending the songs to another level. Instrumentally they prove creative enough to pull this off and keep these songs engaging. It’s not always easy to mix three guitars and a bass along with everything else while cultivating the correct give and take to create enough space for everyone. Bonus points if you can spot the one organ cameo.
Bleach was without a doubt full of spiritual members. As a result these songs often have religious undertones. In an approach similar to Thrice later in their career a specific deity is never named which leaves a lot of vagueness and meaning for the listener and their own inferences.
They say an album is really just a picture in time. A frozen capsule capturing a certain period in the history of a band. If so, this is one of my favorite pictures in the photo album.