Four years ago, Explosions in the Sky ended their last album with a short (for them) song called "So Long, Lonesome". It was pretty and melancholy, not so unlike a lot of their other music, really, but as its title suggests, it had the feel of a goodbye. It seemed so final. But no, the Austin quartet is not done. Take Care, Take Care, Take Care finds the band returning with a renewed focus on its most basic sound: multiple guitars with drums and a bit of bass. The piano that helped lend "So Long, Lonesome" its sense of cold finality is gone, and the band sounds confident getting back to the setup on which they built their reputation.
The band famously doesn't consider itself post-rock, but if we're being honest, today they may be the last true exponent of turn-of-the-century post-rock-- unlike Mogwai, they never wandered away from drifting instrumentals constructed around loud-soft dynamics and the contrast between soft guitar tones and pounding drums. Most of their other contemporaries from the period are gone or found dub or electronics or something else. But Explosions in the Sky are sticking to their guns-- Take Care is less ragged than Those Who Tell the Truth Shall Die, but it's otherwise a very similar album.
So whether or not you dive into Take Care will largely depend on your appetite for loud/soft instrumental post-rock. If your appetite for it is boundless, you will be very pleased by this album, and probably also its elaborate artwork, which can be folded several ways to make the interior or exterior of a building. At its best, Take Care is ruled by drummer Chris Hrasky. The guitars tend to hang on particular figures or throw up an e-bowed haze, and Hrasky is the one who can cut through that. On "Trembling Hands" his drum kit is the lead instrument as he unleashes Keith Moon-worthy torrents of snare, tom, and cymbal, throwing himself at the guitars as though they were a wall to break through.
One could argue that the music here is predictable and even a bit old-hat. We've lived with this sound for well over a decade now, and we have classics to compare it to, including Explosions in the Sky's own work. And that argument holds some water. But the simple fact is that Explosions in the Sky are very good at this particular thing, and it seems as though no matter how many crescendos and diminuendos they play, there remains a certain amount of cathartic power to their music. The emotion in it is ambiguous, and you can read whatever you want into it-- the soundtrack to your rainy day might be the soundtrack to someone else's overwhelming joy, and that too is important to its appeal.— Joe Tangari, April 25, 2011
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