The skinny: Glitchy rockers/electronica renewing their energies and reloading some old tricks.
The review proper: Whoa. What’s all this then?
After some great music, the Sheffield based 65 days of static change their bag of tricks a bit on their new album, We were exploding anyway. Whilst still keeping their trademark moody music, they add some tribal rhythms (the end of ‘Mountainhead’ is pure zoning out territory, ‘Dance dance dance’ is a tribal mantra that never lets go) but also keeping thing manic (‘Crash tactics’, ‘Piano fights’) for the gusto of your listening pleasure.
In fact, if previous efforts made a lot of emphasis on the rock side, this one goes more into the electronic territory (‘Mountainhead’, really, I thought it was an 8-bit tribute to the band!), with some good guitar riffage added in from time to time just to remind you who they are. Consult the amazing ‘Piano fights’, where an ethereal guitar riff is paired with a groovy synth. The music is definitely more in the electronica section, hopefully making some critics nix the “post-rock” moniker that the band allegedly dislikes.
Another sign of the small changes the band is embracing is adding a bit more of vocals. Even good ol’ Robert Smith (he of mascara, hair spray and The Cure-ish shenanigans) comes around and adds his magic, hypnotic voice in ‘Come to me’, a track so long it wouldn’t be out of place in a The Cure album. The song grows organically, passing through different stages until it comes to a sad, biting end (now with more violins).
Yet another song uses vocals, but this time they are vocoded. The track is ‘Go complex’ and it does exactly what it says on the tin. The strange vocal sample, working almost like a wah wah pedal, augments the experience, becoming yet another instrument perfectly blended into the mix. Long before you realise it, the song is over. It’s a four minute song that feels like 20 seconds, an interval of time so full of energy it leaves a mark on you.
Also scarring are the previously mentioned (and gushed about) ‘Crash tactics’, with its poignant drumming and great guitar duties, and the “watch out, we’re pretty crossed and armed with great musical prowess” warning that comes in the form of ‘Weak04’. Some serious attitude on that one.
Things do mellow out at the last two tracks, and let’s face it, sometimes you need something slightly different and with another pace, just to show you aren’t a one trick pony. ‘Debutante’ and ‘Tiger girl’ do sound slightly retro, in the style of the electronica music of the late 90s, but still getting that 65 days of static seal of guarantee. Again, they are (mostly) more relaxed than the rest of the manic fuelled album, but still full of an energy that words can’t explain.
Whoever said that electronic music has no soul needs to give this album a try. Might not change their opinion, but they got to listen to a cracking album that sure packs a punch, helps you stand up and punches you again. Just because.
About the author: Although describing instrumental music is a taxing effort, he sure appreciates when the music itself has an emotion strong enough that helps the words flow. Also, he was promised a jetpack.
They’ll be at the Octagon in Sheffield University May 6.