Review Summary: Post-rock for the ADD crowd.
When I say the phrase “post-rock”, it probably conjures all sorts of stereotypes in your head – a slow, melodic burn of atmospheric ambience building towards an explosion of energy that brings the song to a close. While the endings are often exhilarating, the rest of the songs in question are peaceful and usually decidedly non-complex. And So I Watch You From Afar break nearly all of these rules. They pride themselves on fast guitar work and energetic tempos, but manage to elicit exactly the same ethereal feelings as any of their slower contemporaries. Their last album, All Hail Bright Futures
, saw them trading their chaotic approach for something a bit more tempered, as well as bringing in gang vocals and utilizing them often. It was a nice departure from the norm and a pleasant sign of the group’s maturation, but fans missed the intensity of their earlier works. Apparently, the band did too, because Heirs
is a partial return to the frantic guitars and fast tempos of the group’s beginnings, while still maintaining the dynamic diversity they’ve gained.
This is easily exemplified with the hyperactive opener “Run Home”, which features an excellent shred section near the beginning with a unique, high-treble tone to give it character. It gives way to a quieter, echoy section in the middle, like you’ve driven your motorcycle off a huge cliff and the world is slowing down around you. The bizarre pacing works, and by the song’s ending you’re completely prepared for what the band has to throw at you.
And throw they will: “Wasps” is a perfect blend of stylish guitars and atmosphere that would be perfect for any cliff-gazing playlist. “People Not Sleeping” has a dancy groove and chord progressions/vocal melodies that feel almost like they were picked out of a Steely Dan song. The title track “Heirs” builds magically over its seven minutes, becoming so gracefully intense and beautiful that the only way to properly enjoy it would be suspended in midair over the most scenic area you can think of. There’s a lot of variation in tone and tempo, but the album feels very cohesive and each track is working from the same playbook and toolset.
is one those albums that has a cover that perfectly depicts the place it mentally transports you to. The artwork shows a lone astronaut, drifting through an apocalyptic land with another planet or moon approaching so close that the waters have engulfed the mountains. And although the intensity of the situation is undeniable, all the astronaut can do is look down and see the beauty evident in it all. Heirs
is And So I Watch You From Afar’s most mature effort yet, marrying relentlessness and relaxation in a way that should attract even those who usually don’t like the genre.