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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Explosions in the Sky -- All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone

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10/10

When it comes down to it, Explosions in the Sky's music is simply the rhythms of life. That sentence was stupid. At some point, I decided it would make a great opening for this review. It doesn't look as good on the screen as it did in my brain. Back to the drawing board.
Explosions in the Sky's third full length, All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone, is really, really good. Like all Explosions in the Sky albums, it is a world unto itself, an emotional instrumental narrative unique from the band's library, yet easily identifiable as a member of their catalog. All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone reminds me of the emotions I feel when things are looking dire to the point of death, and suddenly God or friends or something I should have seen coming comes through and saves me, but when it's all over, the consequences must be met. That was probably too personal and introspective, but Explosions in the Sky's music is written to catalyze such imaginings amongst its listeners.
Or maybe not. I've never asked them, so I could be wrong. This album will mean a million different things to a million different people, and that's yet another reason it is awesome. I do think the Katrina-esque cover artwork certainly symbolizes the feelings of grief and loss embodied in some of this music, but I think the excellent artwork inside the booklet (get a physical copy, you non-troglodytes!), which showcases more mundane images of everyday life, along with its own corresponding music, acts as a counter. Siblings watching television at night with the lights out, friends playing basketball at sunset, a woman bent intently over a piano, a couple embracing in a late night swimming pool, a dog running back to its master with a flashlight in its mouth, and a lonely, cigarette-smoking man sitting at a lit birthday cake, sad, yet looking off toward the future, symbolize what gets us (us = non-sociopathic humans) through the moments symbolized by the flooded landscape of the album cover. The frightening opening four minutes of the emotional juggernaut (and well-titled) "It's Natural to Be Afraid" can easily be represented by the lamp searching through the water. The lumbering, comforting groove at 6:25 into the same song can represent the things we've been searching, hoping, and praying for, even if we didn't realize it, coming to the rescue. The dog running with the flashlight. Your brother watching re-runs of Salute Your Shorts with you. An unnaturally beautiful sunset. Playing Chopin with all the damn lights out.

But just because you are saved doesn't mean you don't have to deal with what just happened, and the latter half of the album expresses this beautifully, incorporating piano as a lead instrument in a way Explosions in the Sky never have before. It's an invigorating experience from start to finish, optimism fading to fear, fear fading to relief, relief fading to grief, grief fading to optimism. Yeah, the rhythms of life. That would make a great opening sentence.

2007 Temporary Residence Limited
1. The Birth and Death of the Day 7:49
2. Welcome, Ghosts 5:43
3. It's Natural to Be Afraid 13:27
4. What Do You Go Home To? 4:59
5. Catastrophe and the Cure 7:56
6. So Long, Lonesome 3:40

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