Astronoid
Astronoid


4.0
excellent

Review

by Dean M. CONTRIBUTOR (24 Reviews)
February 1st, 2019 | 299 replies


Release Date: 2019 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Astronoid are finished exploring; now they're staking their claim.

Is it okay for an album to be unsurprising? Scratch that--is it okay for this album to be unsurprising? One of the most exhilarating things about Astronoid’s 2016 debut, Air, was the way it adopted a novel sound (essentially a riff-heavy Alcest by way of Mew, though that description admittedly does the style’s originality no justice) and took it to places that were even more unexpected. Songs like “Up and Atom” and “Tin Foil Hats” were striking for their strangely cohesive blend of dazzling shoegaze and blistering metal riffs, but they also enhanced their impact by choosing to swerve their song structures and chord progressions off the beaten path and still ending up somewhere beautiful. So what to make of Astronoid, an album that mostly stays in familiar territory?

To some extent, the familiarity is inevitable. Very few bands can be expected to completely reinvent their sound between albums, especially between a debut and a sophomore release, and Air was already plenty innovative. And to be fair, Astronoid does add a few new elements to Astronoid’s sound, the most prominent being several minor key passages that imbue many of the songs with a slightly darker tone. It would be unfair to call Astronoid a retread of Air, but that’s not what I mean when I say that Astronoid is “unsurprising.” What I mean is that, when listening to any given song on Astronoid, I feel like I know where the song is going, and it rarely proves me wrong. This isn’t because I’ve listened to Air enough to pick up on Astronoid’s structural idiosyncrasies, but rather because Astronoid has chosen to organize their sound into more predictable packages this time around. Seldom does Astronoid pull the rug out from under me the way “Up and Atom” did repeatedly, and different songs often follow similar patterns (such as “I Dream in Lines” and “Fault”), thus increasing the album’s predictability as it progresses.

I talk about this familiarity as though it’s a mark against Astronoid, but maybe it’s perfectly okay that the album feels familiar. If Air was a stunningly gorgeous glade, newly discovered while exploring uncharted territory, then Astronoid is the comfort and reliable beauty of a well-known, frequently revisited garden. And Astronoid is undeniably beautiful. The guitars on opener “A New Color” sparkle like a brilliant constellation on top of a bittersweet melody painted in night sky indigo. “Lost” tosses layers of tranquil shoegaze and propulsive metal chugs into a whirlpool and then forms the resulting kaleidoscopic patterns into a wonderfully satisfying arc. Astronoid doesn’t break any new ground like Air did, but it does declare, quite confidently, that it doesn’t need to.



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Chart.
3.6
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Comments:Add a Comment 
BenThatsMyJamin
February 1st 2019


2350 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Pls don't be a letdown

hesperus
Contributing Reviewer
February 1st 2019


1088 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Air is definitely the better album, but i do think this is a worthy successor

Hawks
February 1st 2019


67796 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

They’re both amazing. I think this one is a bit more consistent.

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Lucman
February 1st 2019


1934 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This is great stuff.

Digging: Copeland - Blushing

Hawks
February 1st 2019


67796 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

These dudes are easily one of the best bands around nowadays imo.

Lucman
February 1st 2019


1934 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

After hearing both records I may just have to agree with that. I'm drawn in by this sci-fi rock aesthetic like it's a drug. If it sounds like space I won't be able to get enough of it.

DarkNoctus
February 1st 2019


10704 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

i think this is better than air imo

Digging: Vanum - Ageless Fire

ramon.
Contributing Reviewer
February 1st 2019


2918 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

bold

Dewinged
February 1st 2019


14482 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I still prefer Air but this comes close.

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ButtBoy
February 1st 2019


1896 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Guess this isn't really my thing. Not bad, but the vocals sound like something I would've dug in high school maybe. Also, yall gotta admit these songs get reeeeally samey

TheSpirit
Contributing Reviewer
February 1st 2019


24794 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I promised Sowing I would give this another listen, but initial impressions were unimpressive. Deafheaven meets Tesseract, meets???? Chugs? Hmphf.

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DungeonBoy
February 1st 2019


5456 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Good review. On one hand those vocals are insanely over processed. On the other it works well for this band. Reminds me of how Mechina handles the cleans, clearly auto-tuned and drenched in time-based effects, but seemingly very intentional.



I dug Air when it first came out because I found it to be very refreshing, but over time it grew off me a bit. Hoping this one has a more lasting impact.



Also props to Blood Music for making this and all of their digital stuff pay what you want:

https://blood-music.bandcamp.com/album/astronoid

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ProjectFreak
February 1st 2019


3354 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

This review is gorgeous but halfway through my first spin I'm really disappointed by how homogeneous this is

ButtBoy
February 1st 2019


1896 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

yup my feelings exactly ^

DungeonBoy
February 1st 2019


5456 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Couldn't get through it today, but will try again at some point in the future

Nomos2
February 1st 2019


196 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I'm still pretty torn on this one. There's 3-4 tracks here I really, really like, and the rest I'm just OK with except for a few highlights on them.



That would normally be a pretty good batting average, but I adored Air and it didn't grow stale even after hundreds of listens.



On the other hand, while there was an immediacy to the melodies here that I initially latched onto, it's not improved at all with repeated listens. In fact, I've grown off of the whole package a little bit over the past several days.



While there's some more variety to the sound in terms of the instrumentals and setting a slightly darker tone sometimes, it somehow feels even more homogeneous and samey than the songs on Air. Both in the vocal department, and the instrumentals, which are skillfully played but frequently uninteresting if you stop focusing on Brett's dreamy, high-in-the-mix vocals.



The songs took some twists and turns on Air, and they were exciting. On this S/T, things have been slowed down a bit, and the blastbeats have been excised neatly. What's left, then, is borderline uninteresting a lot of the time, and straight up boring at worst. And looking at Air, the last word you could characterize it with is "boring".



I don't think the writing has always been this way, but with a loss of some of the jubilant ferocity on Air, this feels a bit "dumbed down" sometimes. In how simple and repetitive the lyrics/vocal stylings/instrumentals are. They absolutely flourish plenty of times throughout, but not at the rate that kept me enthralled through the runtime of Air.



I Dream in Lines, Fault, Breathe, Water, & Beyond the Scope are highlights for me, while the rest I could take or leave.

SitarHero
February 1st 2019


7925 Comments


Fault and Ideal World are the highlights of this for me on first listen.

Dewinged
February 1st 2019


14482 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Just go back and listen to Up and Atom and you will see what's missing here.

ProjectFreak
February 1st 2019


3354 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I listened to Up and Atom for like 10 seconds and I understand a bit



idk I'll give this another spin later, it definitely is very pretty but every song is pretty in the exact same way

SitarHero
February 1st 2019


7925 Comments


I suspect that this will mature the same way TesseracT's Altered State did. I was underwhelmed by the album as a whole, but over time the individual brilliance of the songs won out.



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