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Album review: Explosions in the Sky’s ‘The Wilderness’

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Four stars

Explosions in the Sky The Wilderness

For those still dismissing the oeuvre of Explosions in the Sky as mere variations of the same instrumental post-rock song: This album completely unravels your already frayed argument. True, the famously loud/soft Texas act has cruised (and even ascended) with a certain degree of consistency and tradition, toeing into experimental waters sporadically over the course of five studio albums. By comparison, the aptly titled The Wilderness turns hard left, further opening EITS’ sound and varying its time signatures while expanding its sonic palette (the numerous looping synths, the dominance of precise piano notes over the usual guitar riffage).

The structural shifts feel considered but intuitive, particularly on the masterful “Tangle Formations” and generally in how each song reliably unfurls. The Cure remains an influence (“Logic of a Dream” and, naturally, “Disintegration Anxiety”); U2, less so, though the familiar, echoey guitar chimes surface here and there, like a comforting old friend. EITS’ aesthetic loyalty lies exactly where it should: in the tone and narrative, the transportive nature of the former still offering tenderhearted salve and the explorations of the latter a testament to the band’s commitment to dynamic, bracing and forward-thinking rock.

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