echnically TWTTTWDTWTTTWLF (what an acronym) is Explosions In The Sky’s second LP, but considering that only about 400 copies of their first exist, we might as well consider this to be their debut. There’s no track listing on the sleeve, and searching the internet comes up with two or three potential titles for each of the album’s six songs, cheery little names like ‘With Tired Eyes, Tired Minds, Tired Souls We Slept’ and ‘Greet Death’. Coupled with the pretentiously fantastic and doom-laden album title and none-more-moribund sleeve art, this album could only be the work of gloomy post-rock types who sound like Godspeed...!. And indeed it is, because EITS are four miserable young men from Texas with big, dark, hollow souls and a huge armoury of mournful riffs and noisy climaxes.
They’re not simply post-rock clones, though. While Godspeed...! are fond of found-sounds, portentous voice-overs and classically influenced arrangements, EITS are a much more straightforwardly rock proposition, eschewing the long, repetitive and droning intros and build-ups in favour of getting to the point more quickly. EITS are a definite four-piece band, guitar, bass, drums and more guitar, rather than the apocalypse orchestra that is Godspeed...!. There are no intricately orchestrated cinematic movements on here, and no 30-minute tracks that weave through different sections, although we’re hardly in Guided By Voices territory either. The opening track (which could be called ‘Greet Death’) typifies this – there are a few moments of quiet guitar work before the first searingly cathartic crescendo pounds into life almost from nothing. Who needs six minutes worth of foreshadowing, ambient noise and one-chord riffing when you could surge straight into a noise as glorious as this?As well as being more concise and compact than Godspeed...!, EITS are also more tuneful than Mogwai, the other comparison that springs easily and perhaps lazily to mind. Some of the melodies and motifs presented here are truly beautiful, and there seems to be a much more structured and intricate approach to the way EITS move through a piece of music, rather than the simple ‘quiet-less quiet-loud-VERY LOUD-quiet again’ technique favoured so much by Mogwai in their early days. Indeed, some of the guitar work is redolent of Nick McCabe’s very early work with (pre-The) Verve, lots of reverb and spectral shimmers rather than just a bludgeoning post-Nirvana squall.
It’s hard to pick standout tracks or moments on this kind of record, because although musically individually the tracks have such a stylistic and emotional unity that they begin to merge until you have to view the album as a cohesive whole. And of course, there are no big choruses or infectious hooks to get you humming along. The third track (possibly called ‘The Moon Is Down’) features some emotive and hypnotically powerful militaristic drumming, but it seems unfair to pick that as a highlight when the rest of the album is as good as it is.
I’m not entirely sure what it is about Texas, something to do with the sun-bleached barren landscape possibly, but it seems to be churning out more than it’s fair share of fantastic guitar-oriented bands in the last few years. Queens Of The Stone Age, ...Trail Of Dead and At The Drive-In have all released great records, and now it’s the turn of Explosions In The Sky to emerge from the desert, blinking in the sunlight and making a wonderful, redemptive noise.