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Explosions in the Sky

Take Care, Take Care, Take Care

Rating: 3.6/5.0

Label: Temporary Residence

It makes sense that one of the three guitarists of Austin’s Explosions in the Sky, Munaf Rayani, once waved off a “post-rock” tag on the band in an interview, preferring instead that they be called a “rock band,” plain and simple. “Post-rock” has been, for me, one of those uncomfortable terms you start to use when a band’s music hasn’t the potential to sell and, therefore, ducks a neat branding by a label PR person. Explosions, I suppose, get dubbed post-rock because what they do is just about entirely instrumental and in five minute-plus chunks. Though, if Rayani, Mark Smith, Chris Hrasky and Michael James wanna be rock ‘n’ roll stars, these scorers of the Friday Night Lights movie have a capable enough grasp on the dynamics any good rock band needs to roll you, which is on display with Take Care, Take Care, Take Care.

The opening “Last Known Surroundings” makes good on the self-avowed rock leanings, with Hrasky’s drumming aggressive enough to mean it. The percussion here sounds like the central character, while the three guitarists rally around for eight minutes, one providing searing feedback color, another, reverberating chords and the final, plunking, melodious arpeggios. After that opening artillery, “Human Qualities” turns the heat down, favoring rolling, easily plucked chords on clean electrics before the vaguest of human voices offers atmosphere in the background. Five minutes in, another narrative voice via guitar enters, its lines falling somewhere between the precise sweetness of Tom Verlaine’s leads and the proud ringing of the Edge, before the entire track suddenly falls headlong into more intense percussion and soaring guitar atmospherics.

“Trembling Hands” ups the ante with a runtime under four minutes, supplying wordless backing vocals and more Hrasky showcasing. “Be Comfortable, Creature” doesn’t exactly have anything as salient as the others, though it is pleasant enough for its nearly nine minute runtime. “Postcard From 1952” manages to take its title and searching, wistful melodic lines and render an atmospheric rock instrumental… wistful and searching. The final “Let Me Back In” sounds like it could’ve been born from a jam; the band rides an atypical, shuffling rhythm for many of the song’s 10 minutes, a strange loop of female voice swirling in the background.

An instrumental rock album can be a tough sell – especially for one whose tracks frequently reach the nine minute mark. But Explosions in the Sky, at it since ’99, aren’t fumbling noodlers while, at the same time, aren’t exactly morose and chilly. Take Care is a tidy six song album that sounds huge without overstaying its welcome, almost upbeat without being alienating. If you ever wanted to know about big, immense instrumental rock but were afraid to ask Mogwai, Explosions might be a good place to start.

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PRE: Third Album

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