Review Summary: Fresh air.
Post-rock has become increasingly stale. Certainly, there remain various quality bands within the genre. Despite this, there are quite a few post-rock acts that rely on the exact some formula throughout each and every one of their songs. Starting extremely strong, the genre began with the likes of Talk Talk, Slint, and Godspeed You! Black Emperor. As the years progressed, however, post-rock bands began to fall into a rut, they seemed to have found the perfect formula. It would start quiet, begin a long crescendo, explode, then fall back into quiet. Though this proved to make a brilliant few songs, the formula soon became over used, and many bands fell into mediocrity.
Fortunately for the genre, there are quite a few adventurous bands that capitalize upon the instrumentation of post-rock and use it in absolutely unique ways. *Shels is one of these bands. Starting from the ruins of two other bands, *Shels kicked off their career with the fantastic Sea Of The Dying Dhow
. Utilizing various post-rock song structures, the band combined them with a progressive spin, which proved to produce an original and impressive sound. This allowed for their debut LP to garner a great deal of praise. Well, *Shels are back for more, and they certainly do not disappoint.
Improving upon its predecessor in virtually every way, Plains Of The Purple Buffalo
uses more of what made their debut so fantastic, creating a very solid release. *Shels opts for rather vast song compositions upon this album, creating an almost dreamlike air and sprawling instrumental sections. Despite this, strong instrumentation, such as commanding guitars and pulsing drum beats, keep the release grounded enough so that it does not feel too far off for a listener to easily grasp. Brass sections are tastefully placed, usually in the more ambient, or quiet, portions of each song. This usage of brass instruments is extremely refreshing, providing a rather unique feel to quite a few songs. Consisting of a large variety of instrumental arrangement, Plains Of The Purple Buffalo
does not allow a single moment to feel incomplete.
The vocals are the most notable part of this album, however. They are so pleasant, creating such beautiful melodies; excellent in pitch and execution each and every time. Vocals are not over used on this album, however. They often join in with the instruments for rather brief moments, usually consisting of only vocal sounds and not lyrics. Lyrics are not entirely absent upon this release, though. Quite a few tracks contain beautifully simple, yet moving, lyrics. Used very expertly, the singing only adds to each song, never drowning out the instruments and never being overtaken by the guitars, drums, bass, or brass sections.
Plains Of The Purple Buffalo
is quite simply a breath of fresh air. It is so refreshingly upbeat and pleasing to listen to. While never being overwhelming or too much for the listener, not a dull moment can be found within this album. *Shels certainly knew what they were doing, and they did it well upon this release. Everything falls into order, and the whole LP flows seamlessly