New Others Part One by This Will Destroy YouRelease date: September 28, 2018
Label: Dark Operative
The butterfly emerges from the chrysalis, transformed from the slow moving, unappealing and ultimately compromised caterpillar into a freeform wondrous creature emanating beauty. Texan experimental post-rockers This Will Destroy You appear to be working a similar process, metaphorically, only in reverse. With their fifth studio album, New Others Part One, the expansive, dare I say epic, soundscapes of their earlier work are all but a distant memory. Channelling an intense world of claustrophobia, the compact nature of the fusion of electronic experimentation and restraint moments of rare metal rocking out make for a slightly underwhelming listen.
With just two original band members remaining, Jeremy Galindo and Christopher King were joined by Jesse Kees (bass and keys) and drummer Robi Gonzalez in 2016, prior to the making of this record. It turns out these two new guys are absolutely fundamental to the sound of New Others Part One, along with John Congleton, who produced, engineered and mixed the album. He was also the man behind the desk for arguably their finest hour, 2008’s This Will Destroy You.
When TWDY initially emerged with their self recorded debut EP Young Mountain in 2005, they introduced themselves with some straight-up post-rock with quiet/loud/quiet rollercoasters, melodic passages, metallic junctions and sky scraping solos. The kooky ‘Grandfather Clock’ hinted at an electro experimental future. On the excellent This Will Destroy You, ambient drones and seering strings embellished their sound. Indeed ‘They Move on Tracks of Never-Ending Light’ closely resembles some of the glitchy electronic textures and twinkling keys of this new album. In 2011 Tunnel Blanket was the perfect balance of epic noise and subtle atmospherics, then there was a noticeable shift with 2014’s Another Language where the mellower moments increasingly replaced the louder passages. The epic tendencies of their earlier work began to be replaced with something much more claustrophobic and electronic. New Others Part One drives this on taking away any element of euphoria and passing into darker territories.
On opener ‘Melted Jubilee’ artillery style drums combine with low hum twinkling keys that flicker like wind chimes. Immediately I’m reminded of Explosions In The Sky’s The Wilderness and a sizeable nod to Mogwai’s cinematic excursions. The track radiates warmth with a pleasing chord progression and swooning guitar lines eventually ebbing away to reveal a burbling electronic undertow. The twinkling keys and deep bass throb resist the urge to leave on ‘To Win Somebody’s Got to Lose’ as warm keyboards combine with some sweet clean guitars. The ethereal electronic undertow actually sounds like a sample from The Wilderness such is the closeness to the sounds being employed, but the track lacks a little dynamic and direction. TWDY have gradually transformed into a band with their ears seemingly incapable of withstanding eruptions of distortion.
A few minutes of atmospheric burbling makes ‘Syncage’ an irritating listen before the track kicks into life with the first real hefty metallic moment. But this almost feels tacked on to the droning keyboards that would be an effective passage if only for the stampeding drums and white noise guitars. The unmemorable ‘Allegiance’ features some unwelcome seagull sounds over swelling droning keyboards. Devoid of any semblance of note progression that makes any sense the track is essentially an elongated intro that outstays its welcome for just over four minutes.
The guitars are deemed irrelevant on ‘Weeping Window’ as more searing keys and humming bass rise to the fore, until they drop like buildings crashing to the ground and the strings provide a morose accompaniment. This could be the harrowing soundtrack to nuclear explosions and the hideous aftermath as civilisation is consumed by dust and smashing debris. It’s the first and last moment of staggering brilliance on the album. Maybe the whacked out drones and scraping tones of ‘Like This’ are perfectly placed to follow ‘Weeping Window’, but once it settles into formation nothing else happens and it feels like a missed opportunity.
Album closer and lead track ‘Go Away Closer’ is the most straightforward post-rock number with the drummer given free rein to show off, while a simple repetitive guitar line spiders over swathes of lush keys. Neatly ticking all the boxes it was this track that encouraged me to undertake the album review, unknowingly being trapped by the red herring that there isn’t much else on the album that sounds like it. Expansive in sound and the most dynamic track on the album, eventually the urge to wander into realms of quiet experimental electro sounds usurps the rocking and the album ends with a quirky outro leaving this listener profoundly underwhelmed.
I don’t know if it’s the advancement of middle age that causes some of our post rock leading lights to shy away from seismic sonic excursions, but increasingly we’re finding bands retreat into sounds that are mellower and more introspective. This Will Destroy You have always had a strong electronic element to their music and a hefty reliance on droning passages to infiltrate their albums, but New Others Part One only has seven tracks, hence the feeling of being a little short changed. Much like The Wilderness, there are moments of splendour to be found on New Others Part One as well as some alluring newfound sounds, but I can’t help feeling this would have been better served as an extended play release rather than full album.