Review Summary: Sponge cake.
The ever-growing rise of electronic music has consistently been giving birth to controversy since its 60's beginnings. Whilst synthesisers, keyboards and electronic drum kits opened the eyes of the world to a new realm of musical possibilities, traditionalists opposed its abrasive and forced sound in favour of their more organic and lifelike instrumentation. I agree in some cases that these traditionalists were right to argue for the pure and true sound of acoustic instruments - after all, electronic music did inspire a swarm of horrendous artists (see: 90% of the 80's), however the so-called ‘Father of Electronic Music’ Edgard Varèse prophesised, 'I almost think that in the new great music, machines will also be necessary and will be assigned a share in it
'. 65daysofstatic are a band that proves this 1883-born composers' prediction. This instrumental quartet are a group that just will not cease to inject a furious, frantic, frenzied energy into every ounce of material that surfaces from their factory of mechanised and thundering sound. We Were Exploding Anyway
is thankfully no different in this respect, however this boisterous energy is channelled through an entirely new conduit. A conduit that buzzes and flickers and radiates.
What 65daysofstatic also adapt time and time again is the element of dance within their material. Right from their inception their music possessed a strongly dance orientated trait that pulsated like a wave, rising and diving through many of their early songs, though it usually took the backseat in favour of their complex percussion and whimsical riffs. On We Were Exploding Anyway
, this neglected feature revisits like a jealous step-daughter, demanding the attention she was robbed of from her youth - a scene guaranteed to make the parents blush. But 65daysofstatic are anything but embarrassed, and in fact they embrace her arrival with open arms and a throne to perch on. The aptly named "Dance Dance Dance" for example surges with an electrical passion with a subtly gleaming synthesised melody racing over its horizon, leading into fantastic use of a filter that adds an air-stealing tension to its abrupt and volatile end. It wouldn't even be such a stretch to say this is reminiscent of trance. Not to mention "Come to Me" - a track that an abundance of modern dance artists would spend a lifetime writing. Here, The Cure's own Robert Smith adorns the track with his alluring vocal that is chopped and looped and cut and spliced. 'Vocal, 65dayofstatic"!' long-time fans will enquire perplexed, however Smith's input complements the track with masterful precision and gracefulness, his voice ultimately to become entombed in a crushing (and more traditional) pounding-drums-thumping-guitars-euphoric-strings climax.
We Were Exploding Anyway
does however present a host of potential deterrents that could seriously repel a large chunk of 65's fanbase. This new principally electronic led sound undeniably could be enough for even the die-hard devotee to turn up his nose in disgust muttering those ice cold words, 'sell outs
', but it doesn't stop there. 65daysofstatic have decided to steer clear of their proven formula of combining edgy time signatures with twisting guitar parts, and instead opted for much less intimidating and much simpler song structures. The success of this is of course subjective – the songs have almost guaranteed catchiness in this respect, yet some fall short of expectations because they simply lack the edginess and originality that 65 used to convey so well. "Piano Fights" comes to mind in this case, rarely adding the dose of the complexity they are so surely capable of adding to their sound, and barely utilising changing dynamics that provoked interest in the way that past efforts One Time For All Time
and The Fall of Math
did. Though many of the songs here are vibrant enough on the surface, some seem deficient of the musical depth and significance that earned them such a dedicated audience in the first place.
At times it seems 65daysofstatic have thrown away their greatest asset, and with it some of their unique charm, yet they redeem themselves with their menacingly catchy hooks and chunky drum and bass work that were bred almost solely for a live setting. We Were Exploding Anyway
is undoubtedly an album for a moment, an album to share alongside others, an album that will open them up to an entirely new and easily excitable audience. No one, still, does it quite like 65. Despite this, long time admirers may find themselves lost in the pristine production, wishing for the elder raw approach that came partnered with clanking labyrinth of sound that its predecessors offered. Ten minute closer "Tiger Girl" summarises the album more appropriately then I ever could, a bass drum hammering through the majority of its simple arrangement, over which the band builds on glitzy ideas one at a time, layering euphoria over and over like an overblown sponge cake. Strawberries, icing sugar, chocolate swirls, chocolate chips, hundreds and thousands, cream, marshmallows. Intense of the surface, but underneath it's just a sponge cake.