Sometimes the album absolutely drives, other times it's bogged down in its own cleverness. I'm not a big fan of the male vocals, which add nothing to the music (except making it sound "punkier"), but the female vocals in parts are nice. The Chinese Opera sounding melody on "Take Away These Early Grave Blues" is amazing, a sure highlight. I can't emphasize how much better this album would be without the distracting vocals which are just poorly poured over everything.
Don't really understand the lukewarm response some people seem to be giving this. All the way through, I thought it was a quite demanding and interesting experience, almost as if it's Godspeed with more Black Flag influence to it. There's lots of hypnotic repetition, beautiful symphonic melodies, and emotive vocals. I especially don't understand the gripe about the production, it seems to work just fine for me. But, a very good art rock/post-rock release that I'm glad I finally heard. 4.3/5
The lo-fi production grew on me as the record played out, and I love the violins and female vocals. The male vocals are a bit much at times (the beginning of "What We Loved Was Not Enough") but on the whole, they work for me. There are some fantastic songs here- the aforementioned "What We Loved Was Not Not Enough" and "Take Away These Early Grave Blues" being two highlights. "Little Ones Run" is excellent as well. I don't care much for "Austerity Blues" though- it feels stretched out- and it's the longest track here. On the whole, however, this is a very successful release. 4.2