Review Summary: Channeling the pain of change.
If there's anyone in the world who understands that, it's me. I have an unenviable condition where major life changes give me a tremendous amount of anxiety. I first encountered it when I switched high schools in 2005 and became psychosomatically ill for a full month. The condition has persisted through my first, second, and third attempts at college; my first, second, and third attempts at full-time work; and now, after a promotion I worked my ass off to earn at my physical place of work.
But why bring all of that up"
Because change is painful, and Young and Courageous
does a fine job of bringing that fact to light. And I can relate.
From the opening sprawls of "Desolate. Magnificent.", Tides of Man make us very aware of their emotional descent since the departure of much-lauded vocalist Tilian Pearson. Though the album isn't wholly too different from an instrumental version of debut Empire Theory
, the down-tempo post-rock on the album carries a sentiment of depressive flailing. The Tides of Man of Young and Courageous
are very obviously struggling to cement a new identity while fighting to overcome grief for glory days long beyond their reach.
Such tumult is especially noticeable in songs like "Mountain House," which contain lead lines reminiscent of Tilian's over-the-top vocals. Yet it's equally apparent in the drawn-out vastness of Courageous
as a whole and in songs like "We Were Only Dreaming" which reach bouncy and bright highs only to come crashing back down into those dark, downtrodden corners. Other songs, for all of their interlacing instrumental work, feel like they're simply missing a part. Like a room once filled with laughter and excitement left suddenly empty, silent, and loomingly large, even if still grandly decorated.
But there's power to be had in that ethereally sublime quality of the music; a hidden power to tap into in that frightful event of change. And Tides of Man reach within and make use of it by infusing raw emotion into their textured and proficient approach to post-rock. And while there may be moments that linger a little too long or which grow repetitive (mostly in the second half of the album, with its closer being the top offender), it's oddly comforting to see a band that's gone through such an identity upheaval build on their strengths, exemplify just what every instrument can bring to an album, and march firmly into new territory.
After all, if Tides of Man can take the challenge of even the most perilous looking change head-on and succeed, maybe people like me can, too.