'Ware the ides of Avril

Listening to Explosions In The Sky's new one: "All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone." It's no "The Earth is not a Cold Dead Place." But then it isn't clear anything could be. To use a widely recognizeable analogy: the argument is somewhat like questioning whether the white album is better than Sgt. Pepper.

It does, however, have its good (better) points. It's more diverse in instrumentation, something Explosions has grown into quite appropriately. It's also more subtle in terms of the emotional content. "The Birth and Death of the Day," the first track, will certainly remind listeners of the previous album. That's not to say it's a rehash––far from it: the work is far more ambiguous, and as such works as a piece of art to be admired far more than the previous album. "The Earth..." had the admirable but limiting quality of sucking the listener into an emotionally devastating, potentially revelatory, repoire with the band. "All of a Sudden..." on the other hand sets out a more mysterian, and to some extent more remote, series of sounds that speak both to universal experience and to dislocation, without quite keeping its feet grounded in the tangible reality of the audience. One has the feeling that the album is doing as much as it can to allow the audience to bring to conscious contemplation the warm agony of contemporary ennui without pandering or resorting to that most plebian of pop devices, the lyric. I'm not knocking Explosions for this, far from it. I want to point out the relative difficulty of grooving on this album. "The Earth..." is the musical equivalent of Ecstacy: a blasting, wailing catharsis and outpouring of love, far greater than any auditor's anticipated reaction, and thankfully so. By way of contrast, we can say that "All of a Sudden..." is much more a listener's album, much more a work of art in the gallery exhibition sense. It still, finally, has the ability to draw one in as a musical analogue to an intense short story, with a vague, but powerful, psychic insight, and in doing so shows the band to be maturing––or at any rate, mastering––through its third full album.

And yes, I do have a vast, muted, expanding pain in my chest and in the base of my skull, a pain caused by the entirely unnecessary but unfortunately ubiquitous alienation and unwanted chrysalis of solitude imposed by any attempt to bridge the gap between material striving and the Outer Darkness that is true counterculture, a pain familiar to everyone who loves someone that can't be reached, just now, a pain familiar to everyone with a heart in a world made for spendthrift automatons, the same degree and intensity of bittersweet ache one grasps and gasps at knowing when one's fondest wish and worst nightmare are one and the same, and true.

Lorca said:
El olvido estaba expresadoo por tres gotas de tinta sobre el monóculo,
el amor por un solo rostro invisible a flor de piedra.
Médulas y corolas componían sobre las nubes
un desierto de tallos sin una sola rosa.

Yet this will be a good year.



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