usic reviewing is a funny thing. Any art, if it is of any worth, should have a polarizing effect on people, causing an amount of subjective emotion. Music is one of these artistic ventures that causes such conflict among people. But reviewing is meant to be an objective analysis of the work. A way to break down the influences, the sounds, and the meaning of the art presented. Most music reviews, and specifically this one, also have a rating attached to them- a numerical attempt to define exactly how good the work is, in comparison to everything else that has been released. A great reviewer of albums should be able to put any album in a range of 20% either way, to encompass exactly how good an album is- and how well loved it will become. But sometimes there are problems. These problems occur for me, specifically, when an album comes along that I know perhaps isn’t the pinnacle of musical achievement, but I certainly can’t stop listening to- whatever the reason.
Unfortunately for the reader and fortunately for me, one of these albums is Kepler’s Missionless Days. The excitement, of course, stems from my uncommon love of the debut record of the group, Fuck Fight Fail, but Missionless Days is on a road to even trumping this release in its appearances on my Winamp playlist.
That being said, Missionless Days is a distinct progression from the spare slo-core of Fuck Fight Fail. Whereas the debut record featured a minimum of instruments on each song, it seemed, Missionless Days opts for a fuller mix of two guitars, drums, and bass- and frequently more. Samir Khan takes more of the singing duties here, although the two singers sound so much alike that it nearly makes no difference. Perhpas influenced by Khan’s love of Will Oldham, the group incorporates a bit more country twang into the proceedings this time around. A slide guitar is used on some of the tracks, while the songs maintain a definite tone of melancholy and sadness.
The most potent emotional points on the debut album, the epic “Upper Canada Fight Song” and “The Changing Light at Sandover” are not equaled in intensity, however; as Kepler trades in the Mogwai-esque explosions of sound for a more deliberate and tempered approach. The emotion is still there, it just isn’t as self consciously shown as before in the well timed, almost clichéd crescendos of their first effort.
The results are, in the end, less immediate and altogether more satisfying. The pacing of the album is once again immaculate and allows for two of the most up tempo Kepler songs in memory- “Dogs and Madmen” and “The Steel and the Stone”. While this may not be the perfect release for everyone, if you find yourself wishing that Will Oldham, Low, or the Red House Painters had another album out Kepler might just be the band that you’re looking for. I feel lucky that I’ve already found them.