Review Summary: "Hi, I'm an art-graduate J. Willgoose, Esq. and today I'll teach you about the deterioration of England's coal-mining industry."
How do you know what an album is about without looking it up, when the album has no lyrics" Good question. But this Post-Rock-ish record is apparently “a story of industrial decline", which you can only figure out by reading about it in the official album’s description. Nonetheless, once it becomes clear that that’s what the album is about, its vibe and musical arrangement, the brooding atmosphere and the creeping song writing, it all starts to set up the proper feeling of countryside mine working communities on the verge of extinction. Okay, I was lying, it does have vocals. Or rather, it has rare vocals and vague lyrics, and then it also contains an obligatory documentary spoken-word insertion on each track.
The album manages to perfectly sum up the desperation and hopelessness of the industrial life. It isn’t trying to evoke a sad tear in you, nor does it attempt to showcase the theme in an overwhelming, bombastic, epic and bloated fashion, although it does tend to near that direction. Instead, it just presents it as a fact, a certainty of life that in the end, more sooner than not, these working class outsiders are going to vanish and the familial traditions and working habits enriched by generational development will be lost in oblivion forever. That is the kind of heaviness this album presents.
There is no point in dissecting individual songs, for they all are mostly based around the same instrumental premise. A sprinkle of tangling guitars, marching drums and chilling horn section at the background, together coming into one “sempiternal sadness of the industrial background” (thank you Google Dictionary for this phrase). Every now and then a surprise hits, like the slightly Tango-y, almost upbeat “People Will Always Need Coal” or Indie-like “Progress”. Occasionally it also reaches into some mildly arena-sized territories, such as the guitar-riffs-layered “All Out”. But for each explosive, out-there moment, the album presents a gentler, more sombre, patient tenderness, such as “You + Me”.
The record doesn’t really go anywhere beyond that. It’s not one of those releases you’ll be able to divide into goods and bads, rather it just exist in its own conceptual musical world, where it flows around naturally and freely. It is equal part beautiful and thought-provoking, in spite of how little it says. There is no urgency behind the music; there is only that terrifying sense of now and sadly never again.