Review Summary: It's the album we all wanted but never dreamed that we would get.
For fans of yndi halda (or rather, those who loved their only album, Enjoy Eternal Bliss
), a second album was an idea of fiction; a thought teased only by briefly from snippets of new music and a lack of a true break-up or haitus. More or less, yndi halda have been floating in an interstital space that never belied the existence or possibility of new music. Yet here we are, over a decade later, receiving a new record. Under Summer
comes like mana from heaven; an almost stupefying surprise that feels like a cartoonish mirage in the middle of the desert.
But Under Summer
is here. It's real. And damn is it good.
Removing all context of yndi halda's fervent fanbase and legendary post-rock status, their second record is an amazing slab of music. All of the hyperbole and hype leading up to this Under Summer
seeks to overshadow the fact that what is offered here is excellent on its own merit. That being said, those familiar with Enjoy Eternal Bliss
will find this record to be everything they've hoped for and more. The belated sophomore release is just as lush and heart-rending as one would expect. Full of swelling strings and subtle drama, yndi halda have presented their formula for post-rock success in a tight and well constructed collective of songs. Glimmers of "A Song for Starlit Beaches" are mirrored in the albums opening, while the cathartic explosions of "Dash & Blast" can be heard in the waning moments of "This Very Flight," the album's closer. These extended pieces of music press on past the eight-minute mark, but each sounds refreshingly unique. The only dip in quality lies in the grower, "Helena," which at 18 minutes feels like a patchwork of several disjointed interludes. It doesn't really work and one cannot help but wonder what yndi halda were going for. There's a lot of beauty in "Helena," but it takes a lot of time and forgiveness. Every other song, however, is absolute post-rock perfection.
What has been most noticeable with these new songs is the inclusion of vocals, which while not new to the yndi Halda formula, were never so present as they are here. No longer are voices sequestered into murmurs and "DA DA's." Portions such as those found in the middle of "This Very Flight" feel slightly reminiscent of something one might hear from The World Is... With newly implemented "twinkle" (ugh) guitar tones, yndi halda have much more in common with a 2010s indie rock band than, say, Explosions in the Sky. For the most part, though, these influences take a back seat to the same dramatic presentation that fans have frothing over for years. The chanted climax found in the last track, for example, is sublime; a startlingly unique sound for the band that stands up their with one of their crowning moments. Under Summer
is overflowing with segments such as these, making every second worthwhile. In some respects, yndi halda of topped themselves, condensing some of the more bloated aspects of Enjoy Eternal Bliss
into something much more palatable. Some might find it less emotive as a whole. Yet in trimming the fat, the band has projected a sense of realism and maturity that was once shadowed by wonder and zeal. The magic isn't gone, but simply filtered and refined.
As an impartial reviewer it's hard not to wax poetic about how affecting Under Summer
truly is. It's beautiful--stunning, even. All is freshly minted without pressing the boundaries of Enjoy Eternal Bliss
to a warped mess. It's the album we all wanted but never dreamed that we would get.