Review Summary: Feeling right feels good but being right is best
It’s very difficult for me to talk about this album objectively because it’s been one of my favourite albums for a long while now. Do Make Say Think are a Canadian post rock collective with members who have played in Broken Social Scene and supported Feist in the past. They are well known for their take on post rock that eschews the traditional ‘build up / crescendo’ formula that most are familiar with, in favour of songs that are more varied in their structure and composition.
You, You’re a History in Rust
was released in 2007 and came after the release of Winter Hymn Country Hymn Secret Hymn
, their first release to gain wider traction in music circles. I think what really sets this album apart for me is how alive the music sounds – I’m not sure what wizardry went into the recording of this album but you can almost hear the creaking of wood, a gentle breeze, and the rustling of trees outside that make this album sound so wonderfully lived in. The timbre of the instruments is delightfully warm and the music sounds incredibly rustic and simple, despite the actual song writing being relatively complex. Looking at the list of musicians for this album beyond the usual (guitars, drums, horns, woodwind) it’s notable that there’s a vibraphone player, someone playing the marimba, and someone credited with playing the musical saw (thanks Jimmy Anderson, whoever you are), and it’s unconventional instruments like this that contribute to the unique sound that Do Make Say Think produce. I’ve read some un-verifiable information that this album was recorded in a barn and although I’m not sure if it’s true, it’s very easy to believe that this is the case on listening.
All of these instruments and the beautiful mastering wouldn’t mean anything without the actual song-writing talent that’s on display on You, You’re a History in Rust
, however. There are only two tracks with vocals and lyrics; ‘A With Living’ and ‘In Mind’, both breath-taking songs in their simplicity. The relatively scarcity of lyrics makes these two songs stand out and rightfully so, the lyrics are poignant without being trite or overbearing and they’re married with music that shimmers with the tender tones of the multitude of instruments mentioned above. That’s not to say the tracks without vocals aren’t similarly gorgeous however, from the subdued gentle acoustic picking of ‘A Tender History in Rust’ that is overlayed with whistling and gentle humming, to the remarkable ‘The Universe!’, a track that reels from one delirious, cymbal crashing high to another. The whole album meanders, never seeming like it’s going nowhere but also never in any rush to get where it’s going to eventually end up and it makes for an intimate experience.
You, You’re a History in Rust isn’t the most adventurous Do Make Say Think album (Winter Hymn
) or even the one with the best individual songs (The Other Truths
), but it’s the album that to me is so conceptually consistent that I can’t help but think of it as my favourite. It’s an album that truly breathes, that heaves with the effort of being created, that envelops a room with a multitude of textures that ebb and flow, and one that most importantly is absolutely filled to the brim with the kind of unrestrained joy that I can’t help but be seduced by.