June of 44 – Engine takes to the Water 9.5


29. Jul. 2010, 4:08

Yes. That was my first impression upon hearing this summarization of various modern neuroses, whether it is pollution, overwork, smoking, etc. Following immediately after the implosion of Rodan, these guys took up the mantle of the after effects of Slint’s paranoid vision. Dynamics are big with this album, jolting from near silence to sudden rush of noise in a split-second.

Like Slint, these guys focus heavily on discomfort. Lyrically, they are rather dark, like listening to a depressive speaks stream-of consciousness. But there are tender moments included, like the beautiful latter half of “Have a Safe Trip, Dear”. So they are romantic, in their own perverse, twisted way. Plus, the lyrics are far clearer than they had been throughout Spiderland.

He believes in the machinery/the machines he has nothing to do with, the singer extols in “Mindel” as he worries whether or not these things he does not understand can actually do anything. Or does the fact that they are so complicated only lead to a false sense of security, that someone knows better than you? Either way, they don’t answer us, but let the tension build up without any resolution.

Horns, noisy amp ambience, and breathing come add diversity to their version of rock. Near silence plays a role as well, since it allows the lyrics to be heard perfectly well, and they are surprising good for Post Rock, which usually has more emphasis on instrumentals. Here both work together, forming an unhappy post-industrial society, where protagonists don’t win, ever, because “All he ever does is work” like “Mooch” explains, between an almost roller coaster feeling the guitar work gives.

And finally we reach the end of this album, with the almost uplifting “Sink is Busted”. A fitting end to an unusually diverse album, this trudge away from us, happy that at least some of those machines they understand break.
June of 44


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