Artist: Explosions In The Sky
Album: The Wilderness
Label: Temporary Residence Limited
Release Date: April 1st, 2016
At first I thought the album title was a little misleading. Sure, with song titles like “Infinite Orbit”, “Color in Space”, and “Landing Cliffs”, listeners are far removed from the recording studio and instead find themselves beside giant oceans, under starry skies, or wherever else the music takes them. But doesn’t the term ‘wilderness’ imply a sense of being uninhabited? Whether it’s the eccentric tempo and dynamic changes of the steadily sweeping “Colors in Space” or the effortless teamwork between the lofty synths, busy guitar riffs, and sturdy drums on the motivating “Disintegration Anxiety”, The Wilderness, whatever corners of the earth it takes you to, can easily make you feel at home.
Occasionally the synthesizers won’t be on point, tone-wise specifically. A few times I remember being unsatisfied with certain orchestral decisions, but not for long. With this many moving parts, of course you’re going to find something you won’t like at some point. Tiny little missteps can rattle your comfort, but usually only for a moment. A modest, chugging guitar or a trustworthy drum beat will quickly throw you back to that place on earth that the album had you.
While this is possibly Explosion in the Sky’s most thematic, focused output, the biggest impact it had on me was that it is reminiscent of the band itself. The spacious, gentle opening track “Wilderness” will pleasantly remind you of prior releases with its deliberate build-ups and infrequent, but important synthesizer splashes. On the other hand, “Logic of a Dream”, a progressive, mostly marching song, strays more out of the ordinary with its story-like structure. They’re reaching farther on this release than they normally do (and the music more often than not triumphs as a result), but a concise summary of this album would put the biggest emphasis on Explosions doing what they do and doing it well – setting your emotions ablaze without words.
As ambitious as this idealistic album can appear, it’s very familiar territory. It’s undoubtedly good, but comes up just a few steps short of spectacular (I’m saving my “spectacular”s for a few of its influences, including Sigur Ros and Boards of Canada). I vaguely remember seeing a Facebook status somewhere in my college years in which a friend gladly shared how important Explosions in the Sky was to her getting a good night’s sleep. When you think about things like that, that this band’s successful, consistent formula can have that much emotional power over someone else’s well-being, you’re reminded that a diagnosis like this is nothing more than one man’s opinion.
Related: Weezer: The White Album Review
Album review by John Reimer.