Review Summary: Structurally, musically and conceptually one of the most ambitious and incredible albums ever recorded.
In the next two minutes, I'm basically going to try and convince you that what you're reading right now is an absolute waste of time. Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven is eighty-seven minutes and twenty-one seconds long, comprises two compact discs, four tracks and nineteen varying movements. I've got three or four paragraphs to convey why a pretentious, elaborate, self-indulgent hour and a half of music merits the 5 with which it's been adorned so frequently. See my point yet?
My normal Plan B, then, would be to tell you how Godspeed You! Black Emperor make me feel
. Unfortunately, this is impossible, not because the emotions are too subtle or impossible to underline, but because I'm not good enough. So much of the music that we hold dear stands side by side with us, as our peer, joining hands or marrying voices or calling to arms, but for all the inspiring qualities of Lift Your Skinny Fists it is never once a viable possibility that the minds behind the composition of its schizophrenic and soaring peaks and troughs are Just Guys That Went To Your School. Godspeed You! Black Emperor are better than you and me; they can do things you and I aren't capable of, and they can do them despite, and because of, their pretentious, elaborate self-indulgence.
Because Static is half just that - static - and because the voice samples aren't audible. Because 90 minutes is a preposterous length of time to demand a listener's attention for, and because the band don't pretend to make even those ninety minutes a smooth journey. But in spite of and due to all of these obstacles, Lift Your Skinny Fists is worth it, so worth it, like running a steeplechase and winning by half a metre. Every ounce of energy you invest into this record comes back in the breathtaking cello/viola/guitar/cymbal/bass crescendos peppered throughout. The slow builds, the lulls in momentum, the deliberate roadblocks are all placed and designed and executed with such precise genius that they dissolve into part of the climax as it's happening, and the explosions of majestic awe feel so vital, so important because of them.
Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven is the sort of record which doesn't have hooks because the very idea of listening to a minute of the last dramatic surge is blasphemous and because everything relies on everything before it and everything after it in order to work. Many people have claimed that Godspeed's shorter and more digestable EP Slow Riot For New Zero Kanada is more concise and therefore better, but the two records are simply different; Lift Your Skinny Fists is the work of a group of incredible musicians and artists, unrestrained, unleashed and totally off the rails. In the hands of a band less than sublime it would be a veritable train wreck, but in the possession of Godspeed You! Black Emperor it is simply life-changing. Set aside some uninterrupted time and all of your pre-conceptions, ignore everything I just wrote and listen to this album right from the start right to the finish. You'll know what I've been trying to say.