Explosions In The Sky - Take Care, Take Care, Take Care

by Steve Rhodes Rating:9 Release Date:2011-04-18

Explosions in the Sky (EITS) are a band you may not believe you've heard before, but you most likely to have. Their beautiful instrumental soundscapes have been quietly backing TV documentaries, trailers and programmes on numerous occasions the last few years. Four years have passed since the patchy All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone, which had the unenviable task of following up their masterpiece The Earth is Not a Cold Dead Place but ultimately fell short. Its main problem was the lack of immediacy and songs that meandered without really going anywhere, but it's a pattern which thankfully does not follow on Take Care, Take Care, Take Care.

'Last Known Surroundings' begins with an almost watery, field recording sound before a driving feedback-edged guitar and heavy piano chords simultaneously invade, piloting the song along, allowing for the trademark delicate guitar plucking over the top that EITS are renowned for. It is a deliriously melodic and joyous start for a sometimes morose band. The song does not stop there either. After a brief reflective centre, it leads into an forceful closer with further modifications in pace. There are more changes in direction and ideas in this opener's little -over-eight minutes than many bands cram into an entire career, yet it remains strong, focussed and interesting throughout.

After this triumphant start, 'Human Qualities' is a perfect contrast. Delicate and slow-paced, it has a quiet and haunting feel, particularly in its ominous centre, where an echoing sample is supported by just a barely touched bass drum, before hushed guitars re-emerge leading to the awaiting head-nodding crescendos at the very end. It is a beautifully organic song with great changes of mood.

It's clear there has been development with EITS by their subtle use of sampling on 'Human Qualities', but even more so on 'Be Comfortable Creature'. The latter, while maintaining a traditional hushed EITS opening and build, also adds a greater use of the bass, an instrument which has often been relegated to the background or even not used at all in their songs. Here it wanders with purpose and add new dimensions and direction to their sound.

While the confident but ultimately direction-less 'Postcard from 1952' relies too much on the formula of their last album, the same cannot be said for album highlight 'Trembling Hands'. Far shorter than anything else EITS have produced, there is a sense of intense urgency from the get go. It is still recognisably EITS with chiming and crescendoing guitars but it adds rumbling drums, a sampled vocal and maintains a phenomenal pace, without seeming rushed. A brilliant track that just wants to get a move on and demands immediate repeated listens.

The closer 'Let Me Back In' perhaps combines all the highlights of the direction EITS are going in. A further increase in sampling, a predominant and throbbing bass and chiming guitars, all build effortlessly into a glorious cacophony of noise. Whereas this is the place where you would expect the album to stop, there is still room for a delightful four minute outro. A subtle sample built on with quiet drumming and delicate guitar is interrupted by occasional punctuated shreds of reverbed guitar. It is a thoughtful and melodic ending, something that Godspeed You! Black Emperor could be proud of.

One accusation which has been made to EITS over the years is that they have played safe, rarely building on or adding to a successful formula which ultimately brings diminishing returns. From the evidence of Take Care, Take Care, Take Care, this is simply not the case. Yes, you can tell it's EITS a mile off. However, this album is a great progression in their sound with elements which should be explored and developed on in future releases to come. A glorious and immediate album that should entice and enchant all that hear it.

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