Album Review: Explosions In The Sky – The Wilderness

By Van Williams, Contributor

[Temporary Resistance; 2016]

Rating: 8.5/10

Key Tracks: “Wilderness,” “Logic of a Dream,” “Disintegration Anxiety”

A lot of people know Explosions In The Sky as “that one band that did the Friday Night Lights theme song,” which is sad, because they are much, much more than that. Having been around for more than a decade now, the band knows what makes their particular brand of starry-eyed post rock so effective. 2016’s The Wilderness is their most encapsulating work since their 2001 sophomore LP, Those Who Tell The Truth Shall Die, Those Who Tell The Truth Shall Live Forever. Everything about the record is presented in its most natural form — from the title, to the album art, to the opening bars of the first song, the listener knows they are in for something special.

The record starts with the title track, which takes no time at all to pull the listener in. The song swells and bursts with infectious hooks that only a band like Explosions In The Sky could pull off without a vocalist. Pieces keep being played on as the song progresses, creating a texture that sounds like a spring day. The deeper into the first cut the listener gets, the more the track feels like a flower blossoming into full bloom. The second song does more of the same, in perhaps a more polite and restricted way. With the first two tracks clocking in at only around 7 minutes, it becomes apparent that, staying true to form, the real heavy hitters lay in the middle.

“Tangle Formations” leads off the middle of the record, with piano heavy interludes and crashing drums reminiscent of something off of Coldplay’s Viva La Vida. The strongest track appears in the form of one of the record’s singles, “Logic Of a Dream.” The song starts off with quiet reverb heavy guitar pieces. Synth is poured over smoothly and then pounding drums are added, making everything about this piece sound massive. Suddenly, it crashes, and all that is left are soft, twinkly guitar melodies that sound like an open meadow in the spring time. Suddenly drums pick the song back up, and the listener is driving forward again. After this nearly seven minute, heavenly affair, one might expect EITS to let up a bit, but they show no sign of slowing down. “Logic Of a Dream” is followed by “Disintegration Anxiety,” another single that only pushes down further on the gas pedal.

Growing closer to the end of the record the listener experiences great juxtaposition in the form of the sixth and seventh tracks. “Losing The Light” is a longer, drawn out, morose number, while “Infinite Orbit” is a quick, euphoric little affair. “Colors In Space” sounds like the feeling experienced while watching the leaves return to the trees and color return to the world after a long winter. The closing track, “Landing Cliffs” is as airy as they get, simply transcending any feelings of doubt or dread a listener could feel in their everyday lives and soaring high above that. With The Wilderness, Explosions In The Sky have crafted a record that speaks to an audience without words. It guides without a leader, and it is the most inspired work they have made in over a decade.

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