Review Summary: Forte is the word.
With Dan Tompkins as the principle vocalist behind Piano, one can take it for granted that there will be a reliably strong vocal performance. After all, the well-known Tesseract frontman has proven his mettle with his output from multiple projects, including Skyharbor and White Moth Black Butterfly. Indeed, that solidity can be said to extend to the entirety of Salvage Architecture
, with its slightly unorthodox amalgamation of sentimental punch and pop sensibilities.
Solidity, in a more literal sense, is applied to the production of Salvage Architecture
. It is the first thing that pops out, the forcefulness of the instruments creating a towering wall of sound. Thick, fuzzy guitars cement together alongside the drumming, which eschews finesse in favour of brute strength. Despite the coalescing chaos, Dan’s voice somehow manages to find a position in the forefront, backed up by the harmonization of other singers in the band. I get the sense that these sonic decisions were intended to convey emotional fervour, though the consistently overpowering production may become monotonous at times. Fortunately the songwriting itself evades such issues.
is paradoxically simple in terms of its construction. It is dependent on fairly regular rhythms, and few components are truly unpredictable or disjointed. Vocal melodies take measured steps, rather than fly across the notes. With “Expire”, it strikes hard from the get-go and maintains constant volume until the respite of “Neptune”. “Neptune” foregoes the rhythm section altogether, preferring instead the accompaniment of a piano and Dan’s falsetto. Fear not - delicate threads are weaved into even the “harder” songs, a prime example being the surprisingly dainty guitar motif of “Disappearing Ink”. “Nostalgia is a Weapon” also has its own soft, shimmering passage. Elsewhere, “Scalene” and “Dust to Dust” ground themselves, taking advantage of slower tempos whilst not being one of the subdued tracks. “Ruin Ethics” and “Forensic”, arguably the most standardly formatted pieces of Salvage Architecture
, both feature a lively guitar solo that spruces up their structural variation.
Special mention is reserved for the closing track, “In Memoriam”. Sombre, haunting, its drawn-out chants and shiver-inducing whispers are a victorious demonstration of versatility.
The whole of Salvage Architecture
is certainly greater than the sum of its parts. It never bogs itself down with unnecessary complications or surprises, following instead a minimalistic mantra and expressing itself with easily digestible lines. Accessibility is no curse here - it is in fact one of the pillars of the record, and a factor in making its 51-minute runtime seem shorter than it really is. So long as the production does not fatigue too much, Salvage Architecture
will get the job done well as an album that aims straight for your heart.