Review Summary: The noise in my headphones certainly isn’t fictitious.
It’s always an interesting experience to start listening to a band well into their careers. Not having the context of their evolution or progression is a bit of a double-edged sword. I’m able to listen to the album from a totally objective standpoint, but that objectivity can only take me so far in relation to my knowledge of the capabilities of the musicians. So when it comes to All Fiction
, the next installment in what appears to be a long and storied discography from Pile, I can’t help but feel a bit detached from it. I feel like I should like it more than I do, and while the album was overall a great experience, it's also something I'm probably only going to experience once.
The record is chock full of pretty sounds, lush instrumentals and atmospheric stretches. Songs like “Blood,” “Gardening Hour,” and “Lowered Rainbow” not only capture the dark and melancholy essence of Pile’s songwriting, but are also melodically beautiful at times. Throughout the runtime I would find myself getting drawn into the depths of blurry timbres, echoing drums and wave-like guitars. I deeply appreciate the power that simplicity can have across all forms of art, and the arrangements and songwriting quite nimbly walk the balancing beam between flashy and barren.
For someone who is not a regular listener of noise rock, I also found it to be a very solid introduction. There were no points where I felt like something beyond my comprehension was occurring and the raw, textural presentation of the music could be almost hypnotically enthralling at times. It doesn't appear to try and shake any rafters or break new boundaries, but it doesn't really come across like it needs to either.
The album’s very nature, on the other hand, also highlights what is likely its deepest flaw. For all of the pretty words I just used to describe it, the album sometimes feels like a meandering, meaningless journey. It’s spellbinding from a sonic perspective, but once that bliss wears off, there isn’t really a lot that holds the attention. Between being transfixed and trying to analyze what was going on, there would be points where I would have to force myself to keep listening just to make it to the next point where I could fall back in. Furthermore there isn't really much that makes it stick. While the songwriting delivers purely from a sonic perspective, there are not many other factors that stick out as particularly memorable.
None of that, however, takes away from this being worth listening to. The soundscapes themselves are excellently done, and just because I'm not going back to it, it doesn't mean I didn't enjoy it. I have no idea if All Fiction
is a worthy addition to Pile's work, but I do know that I'm glad I listened to it.