I have had an up and down relationship with Explosions in the Sky. On the whole though I enjoy their brand of “post-rock.” They play pretty melodies in a soft/loud style without any digressions into straight out noise. The band’s sixth studio album. Take Care, Take Care, Take Care is supposed to mark something of a departure for the group. As opposed to their earlier offerings the band set out to make full use of the studio; while I appreciate an album recorded “live” it is also true that sometimes to get the right sound you have to ignore being able to reproduce it live. The end result is an album with moments of weird sounds and ambiance, but that at the same time is firmly planted in the EitS aesthetic.
One thing that’s puzzled me as I’ve read other reviews of Take Care, Take Care, Take Care(both pro-mode and not) is the repeated charge that the music sounds the same as their earlier albums. I disagree, especially with the live). It is still achingly pretty in passages, the little guitar runs at around the two minute mark are gorgeous, but the over all feel is one of paranoia. Now granted the differences in sound are minor, this is definitely an Explosions in the Sky record, and that is fine. Also the CD packaging is gorgeous, reminiscent of something from the Seventies when the music industry still cared about such things.
In the end, your reaction to this album depends entirely on your expectations out of a band from album to album. Pro-mode critics I sense place far more value on experimentation and variation than the casual fan does. And that certainly is a view I share. Every new album is a chance for a band to approach their sound with a clean slate, and I wish more groups were daring with the choices they make going into a new recording session. Having said that though, the most important part of a band’s brand (can you tell I just finished a William Gibson novel?) is it’s sound. And if a band with an established brand strays too far away from that sound they risk losing their identity. It’s a tricky line to walk, and in large part varies from band to band. In the case of Take Care, Take Care, Take Care the decision to stay close to their “sonic brand” is probably the correct one. The music still sounds fresh, and as long as they can keep that up there is no reason to deviate from that sound. Having said that, I do not think it quite reaches the heights of Earth is Not a Cold Dead Place, but it comes close. I’ve had the album for about a week and a half one, and in that time I’ve listened to it almost twenty times. Now that partly comes down to spending time with a new album to write this post, but the last EitS album I wore out like this was Earth is Not a Cold Dead Place and I consider that to be the band’s masterpiece. So if the new record can hold my attention like that then they are doing something right.