Post-rock is dead. We’ve all known this for years. It is now customary for the music of once idolised bands like Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Mogwai to be met with groans of disinterest as opposed to the hushed excitement it used to generate. Maybe we listeners simply no longer have time for these patiently building instrumentals, moving instead to the shinier and more immediately gratifying musical styles that populate today’s independent music scenes. At the heart of it though, with its religiously formulaic approach and staunch refusal to expand or develop musically, post-rock was such an inward looking, almost self-serving, enterprise that its ultimate demise was inevitable.
If anyone was ever going to save the genre it was Explosions In The Sky, and on the evidence of their latest album they might still pull off the most unlikely of musical revivals. ‘Take Care, Take Care, Take Care’ is 45 minutes of sparkling guitar textures and pure, heart-breaking melody, the impact of which is only lessened by the fact that the band have reached these sorts of heights in the past. Explosions In The Sky’s music is in many ways just as constrained by the post-rock formula as any other band, their meticulously composed pieces leaving little room for spontaneity, but this record proves that their approach still has much more to give.
‘Take Care’ displays less of a linear approach to composition than it’s usual to find within the boundaries of the style. There is still plenty of contrast in the loud/quiet dynamics through the record but these pieces flow organically with a firm focus placed on the journey rather than the final crescendo. At the heart of the success of this record is the interplay between the three lead electric guitars; each melodic line is given equal footing, winding around the others in a cascading counterpoint. As a result the music here can be enjoyed on two levels. One can examine closely the vast details of these pieces, but that’s like being presented with a huge fresco only to study the brush strokes and it is only in stepping back from the music that the shimmering wash of colours and contrast comes into focus.
On their first record in four years, Explosions In The Sky have stuck to their guns admirably. In further refining their tried-and-tested set up the band haven’t provided us with anything radically different, but ‘Take Care’ certainly feels like something new. Whether it’s in the move towards slightly less rigid song structures or simply the sheer beauty of the thing, Explosions In The Sky have created an album whose relevance is undeniable, despite still sounding just as they did about ten years ago. Post-rock may well be dead, but it seems there are four boys in Texas who didn’t get the memo.