Having the four songs on your latest album named after the four individual words in your band name demands little in-depth analysis. You needn’t have spent years scrutinizing popular music to recognize the point of such a transparent choice. The phrase “statement of purpose” all but bashes you over the head. Furthermore, when you are six full-length albums into your career, as Do Make Say Think are, there’s the added impression that the band wants you to think that this work is not just their most coherent articulation of their vision, but their best work period.
Which leads us to Other Truths, the latest from Do Make Say Think. In case, the preceding paragraph didn’t make this blindingly obvious, the four individual tracks are indeed named, “Do,” “Make,” “Say,” and “Think.” We, as the audience, are meant to assume that this will be the band’s defining album, which is no small praise given the band’s critically acclaimed back catalogue. So even if Do Make Say Think did choose the most obvious route toward suggesting that Other Truths is their magnum opus, you have to give them credit; it is a little ballsy. That move is likely to create a lot of expectation from your fan base.
By now you’re no doubt wondering if these songs live up to the mammoth expectations of being named after a deservedly celebrated post-rock band. Allow me to equivocate a little and say not exactly. Other Truths is unmistakably the work of time-tested musicians who have developed a terrific rapport working in frequently dazzling concert with each other. Yet, even as the band makes subtle sonic alterations to their sound, there isn’t enough new here to merit the grandiose implications of the song titles.
To their eternal credit, Do Make Say Think is one of the few long-form, instrumental rock bands that do not rely on virtually identical dynamic shifts. That is to say, Do Make Say Think are not merely content to use the oft-abused post-rock formula of beginning with slow ethereal guitars, adding some militaristic drums, gradually building for what seems like an eternity, cresting, crashing, then repeating. Do Make Say Think certainly know the value of a well-earned climax, but they have some interesting and unconventional ideas about how to get there. “Do” wastes little time before adding chugging guitar and rollicking drums to a barely established riff. Soon thereafter, everything but the drums drop out, allowing the bass to insistently take center stage. Suddenly, a new chiming guitar pattern emerges, and Do Make Say Think is, again, off to the races. After several minutes built around the most recently added chord progression, the original guitar riff returns, aided by chanting and cataclysmic horns, leading “Do” to a triumphantly messy peak. Suffice to say, this is a band uninterested in taking the easiest route to catharsis.
“Make” is fairly similarly structured, replacing the delicate finger-picking of “Do” with a more conventional bluesy riff as it’s launch point and ending up all the more apocalyptic for it. “Say,” is a thornier case, showcasing Do Make Say Think’s more experimental tendencies with an opening section consisting of a groaning bass, some low-key, jazzy drums and guitars buzzing with feedback. As is the case with the previous tracks though, “Say” eventually resorts to monolithic guitars, horns, and drums seemingly instinctually. Do Make Say Think do deserve to commended for creating their own post-rock formula, but it’s not terribly difficult to decode. By the time “Say” rolls around, you’ll feel like you’ve heard it before. It’s a shame too. When taken on its individual merits, “Say” may be the strongest entry here, but the preceding songs forecast what to expect. Predictability may keep Other Truths from being regarded as the Do Make Say Think’s best, but at least it’s predictably solid at it’s worst, and colossal at it’s best.