Domestic Terminal
Sanctuary


4.0
excellent

Review

by Sunnyvale STAFF
June 21st, 2024 | 67 replies


Release Date: 06/21/2024 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Four chords, three meals, get through the day

I’d like to believe that Domestic Terminal are on their way to wider prominence. They’ve got a very approachable sound with their blend of emo, shoegaze/dream pop, and indie rock hitting the sweet spot for a whole bunch of potential listeners, all while managing to have their own style enough that they can’t be reduced to simply a clone or imitator of some better-known act. It’s a hard world out there for underground acts though, and the alternate pathway is wide open and perhaps more likely - simply becoming Sputcore mainstays who will probably outlast the site itself (BOOM!). This latter destination shouldn’t come as a surprise - our beloved oddball online community has always had a soft spot for the underdog (see There Will Be Fireworks), not to mention two Domestic Terminal band members are active users here, and one of Sputnikmusic.com’s foremost writers has given his unabashed endorsement of the group in vintage swooning reviews for their first two full-lengths (not naming any names here).

I too found both those LPs to be quite excellent. 2020 debut I Could See Midnight Sky remains my favorite, its amateurish rough edges (occasionally iffy production, etc.) coming across as more charming than anything, while featuring their catchiest song (“Flicker”, if you’re taking notes) alongside an absolutely heart-piercing closing duo (“Capo 3 Song” and “Saint Mary’s Road”). 2022’s All The Stories Left To Tell, meanwhile, might not have matched its predecessor song-by-song in my book, but represented a more polished and refined vision of the band while offering up some tremendous highlights (“Chalk Dust” and “To The Touch” deserve particular mention). In short, Domestic Terminal have established a strong pedigree, ensuring a reliable spot in my summer listening rotation, year after year, through their warm and nostalgic vibes.

As I write these words, it’s summer again. Indeed, at the moment it is absolutely roasting outside, and my poor window-set air conditioner is struggling mightily to keep up with the soaring temperatures. Fitting enough, then, Domestic Terminal are back with Sanctuary, their third LP. What awaits, you may ask? In broad strokes, the four-piece’s typical shtick remains the same - earnest songs built upon glistening/shimmering guitar and heart-on-sleeve emotions - basically the Platonic ideal of “dreamo”, in the parlance of Spotify. Where Domestic Terminal have advanced on their latest effort really comes down to two major factors - first, this is their most adventurous outing yet, and second, Sanctuary represents their most grim and downcast collection thus far, despite its rather comforting title.

Let’s tackle that first claim. Sanctuary’s ten song tracklist largely consists of Domestic Terminal-ish tunes (imagine that!), but dig a little deeper and there’s more diversity of approach than usual. For one thing, some longer songs make their presence known - most significantly closer “Jeremiah Tried”, which tops ten minutes, unprecedented in the band’s discography, and also notable as one of two songs here which are revamped versions of tunes from last year’s The Flooded Basement EP. These more sprawling compositions work well and go a long way towards adding a sense of grandeur to the album, and, as someone who never particularly loved the EP version of “Jeremiah Tried”, the updated take here emerges as a real stunner. Meanwhile, Domestic Terminal have also introduced multiple guest vocalists on this record, variety is the spice of life, after all - the appearance of Kacee Russell (from Late Night Cardigan) on the ending stages of “Capo 0 Song” (yes, the numbers keep decreasing) is a notable standout as she joins the plaintive chorus - “life closes a door, life opens a wound”. Sputnik’s own Captain Jack Mancuso remains the primary vocalist for most of the songs, leaning on his emotive and melodic style, but both bandmate Tim Hotchkiss and the three guest vocalists do manage to diversify the sound notably. Elsewhere, there are additional curveballs like the appearance of hurdy-gurdy in the lovely little interlude track “Wallflower”, and, here and there, diversions into the folkier style which the band previously flirted with on the All The Stories Left To Tell title track. Regarding the latter, the Sanctuary title track treads similar sonic ground, and it really works with the material, wallowing in its forthright sense of loss.

Meanwhile, on to my second big theory of the case: this album marks a darker outlook than normal for these fellas. The gorgeous album artwork feels predictive - there’s a certain coziness in the beckoning lights which corresponds to the inviting shimmer of the music and its occasionally more upbeat moments, but it’s hard to ignore that the murky darkness dominates a large majority of the image, and that assessment feels apt for these lyrical concerns as well. The lines which tend to stick out firmly lean towards the melancholy, if not the outright macabre - the aforementioned chorus of “Capo 0 Song”, the entirety of “Sombor Shuffle”, which appears to deal mournfully with the loss of a beloved pet, the atmospheric “Backwards”, drenched in Halloween-ish imagery, the lonesome title track… The album’s climax, too, near the end of the epic “Jeremiah Tried”, with the nearly-shouted “when will this drought end?” feels less like a moment of cathartic release than an urgent plea.

In the final assessment, I don’t find Sanctuary to be a perfect album, and, indeed, I still cling to the idea that I Could See Midnight Sky is their finest record. Domestic Terminal’s lyricism has long been a double-edged sword for me - the overwhelmingly upfront and unveiled nature of their writing either hitting me straight in the feels, or missing the mark, and there’s a few songs on here where the latter feels closer in my final analysis - “Sombor Shuffle” and “Flicker (Pt. 2”), especially. Nonetheless, though, the band is now three-for-three in crafting excellent full-lengths. Not only do I admire the band’s willingness to shake things up a bit and “go big”, while still not entirely forsaking their bread-and-butter sound, but some of the songs here are easily among their finest creations - the subdued and somber “Fading Fall” is absolutely immaculate, while “Golden” manages to combine a post-rockian intro, an emo/dream pop middle section, and a twinkling folkier outro into total GOLD all the way through, and I’ve already mentioned how wonderful this newly-bolstered “Jeremiah Tried” is. And while those individual songs are fantastic, it’s the ebbs and flows of this record which make it so satisfying. Sanctuary feels like an album you can live in until you know every nook and cranny like the back of your hand. In short, I can already feel it’s gonna be another one of my summer albums - a refuge I’ll reliably retreat into while trying to beat the heat, and while I wait for Capo -5 Song to drop.



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user ratings (30)
3.9
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
Sunnyvale
Staff Reviewer
June 21st 2024


6035 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

And it's out! Fittingly, after publishing my Domestic Terminal review, I'm off to the airport to catch an in-country flight. Enjoy!

ScuroFantasma
Emeritus
June 21st 2024


12105 Comments


I love the art for this, kinda doubt I’d like the music though, but who knows.

Slex
June 21st 2024


16801 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Incredible review



I am busy today but this is absolutely the first thing I'll be listening to, stoked that Late Night Cardigan is here (also that's pretty damn awesome considering how big a fan Jack was in his review for her album)

YoYoMancuso
Staff Reviewer
June 21st 2024


19034 Comments


Thanks so much brother, glad you enjoyed it and this review is wonderful

Bilbodabag
June 21st 2024


167 Comments


Awesome review, thanks so much Sunny!

artificialbox
June 21st 2024


2081 Comments


this is a sputband? damn gotta check

AlexKzillion
June 21st 2024


17562 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

we are so back

Odal
Staff Reviewer
June 21st 2024


2313 Comments

Album Rating: 4.2

only 225 monthly listeners. We gotta pump thos numbers because the opening track is SICK

JesperL
Staff Reviewer
June 21st 2024


5550 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

capo 0 is so fucking good

album is so fucking good

please keep releasing albums whenever i'm on an overnight vehicle to some random destination

LotionLord
June 21st 2024


199 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Golden is so fucking good. Song of the year contender.



Fantastic stuff YoYo and bilbo. Already liking this way more than Stories. Production is a lot better too. Just bought it on bandcamp. Gonna give it a few more spins before I slap a rating.

Odal
Staff Reviewer
June 21st 2024


2313 Comments

Album Rating: 4.2

Fuuuuuuuuck me, Golden is INCREDIBLE



Edit: also, Lake Forest? Chicago suburbs hive, RISE UP

Zac124
June 21st 2024


2912 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Did not know new Domestic Terminal was coming out today but this is fantastic! Capo 0 Song, Sombor Shuffle and Golden are going to be played a lot. Also, the album art is beautiful.

YoYoMancuso
Staff Reviewer
June 21st 2024


19034 Comments


Love all the love that Golden is getting. I will be up front in saying I was a bit skeptical that we could make everything in that song fit together, but all the guys in the band rallied and gave their absolute all and it turned out so nicely

YoYoMancuso
Staff Reviewer
June 21st 2024


19034 Comments


"Also, the album art is beautiful."

Annmarie is an unbelievable creator; she's responsible for all our album art!

Sunnyvale
Staff Reviewer
June 21st 2024


6035 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks folks! Also, shout-out to Jesper for the very necessary proofreading/editing.



Lots of wonderful songs here, but Fading Fall and Golden are absolutely top notch, contenders for both Domestic Terminal's best track and also some of the finest times of the year.

Sunnyvale
Staff Reviewer
June 21st 2024


6035 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

And yes, I absolutely love the album artwork too

YoYoMancuso
Staff Reviewer
June 21st 2024


19034 Comments


Of course Odal is a fellow Chicagoan, homeboy’s vibes are off the charts

YoYoMancuso
Staff Reviewer
June 22nd 2024


19034 Comments


oh shit we on the front page boyeeeee

Frost15
June 22nd 2024


3421 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Sputband, Turnover in similar artists section means I need to check soon.

PS: That art cover is goofily good. I like it for some reason I can't explain.



PS2: Dude the opener is freaking good wtf. Reminds me a bit of Turnover + The World Is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid to Die. Song rules hard indeed. The guitars production is a bit too mybloodyvalentine-esque fuzzy for my taste but I think I will adapt at some point.



PS3: Ok this is pretty good indeed. No hype, no sputbros circle jerk, music speaks for itself.

LotionLord
June 22nd 2024


199 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Oh I forgot to mention this (and I'm surprised nobody else has mentioned this) the new version of Jeremiah Tried is absolutely nuts, another soty contender.



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