Leaves change color, continents shift, entire species disappear from the face of the earth, but some things always stay the same. One of those things is Explosions in the Sky.
And this is coming from an Explosions in the Sky fan. Actually, this is coming from a one-time EITS fanatic. I still think Those Who Tell the Truth Shall Die, Those Who Tell the Truth Shall Live Forever is a beautiful battering ram; heavier than God’s balls. Follow-up The Earth Is Not a Cold Dead Place is every bit the radiant powerhouse its predecessor was, with a stronger emphasis on the radiance.
This was right around the time EITS started getting some serious attention. Not so coincidentally, it was also when EITS became formulaic. The Earth Is Not a Cold Dead Place’s cinematic grandeur landed EITS a gig soundtracking a major Hollywood movie (Friday Night Lights), and their only studio album between then and now (2007’s All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone) found them clearly settled into a comfortable sense of their sound.
Artists often spend whole careers honing in on a sound unique to themselves, and it’s tempting to be content with a recipe that’s received a great deal of positive attention.
With their newest album, Take Care, Take Care, Take Care, Explosions in the Sky are again churning out predictable copies of their past successes. The tunes alternate and blend pretty passages of twinkly guitars with intense blasts of heavily forecasted catharsis. It makes for good listening, but that description in the last sentence applies to their last three albums.
What makes this even more disappointing is that EITS seemingly have no idea how thoroughly they’re ripping themselves off. Their website boasts that the new album contains music that “feels different than anything else we’ve done before and we’re very excited for you to hear it”. That just makes me feel mean for being unable to find anything that strays too far from their usual compositional style. Sure, there are some choir-like vocals on “Trembling Hands”, and you can hear some supplemental drumming on “Let Me Back In”, but those are slight changes at a time when the band could use a more significant overhaul.
So I’m sorry, Explosions in the Sky fans, for being a harsh critic of a band that I suspect can mature and won’t. At the very least, there are a few cool things on Take Care, Take Care, Take Care to make the lack of growth go down easy, such as the moment on album highlight “Let Me Back In” when the guitarists double-time their harmonies. That’s something, right?