A triumphant return.
That's the best way to sum up Pompeii's Loom. A six-year absence hasn't slowed their wheels down one bit and if there ever was an album to show how much these guys deserve to be mentioned with Sigur Rós and Mogwai, this is it! They continue in their usual vein of hazy, dizzying ambient music that leaves nothing but gorgeous skidmarks in the realm of indie, post-rock and emo. But, what's most noticeable here is the balance they've struck. Why? Well, because the minor flaws they exhibited in the past seem to be corrected. They appear more concentrated, mature, focused and as mentioned before...balanced in terms of musical structure. They don't follow the quiet-to-loud formula as they did in the past (which still worked pretty well for them) and instead, mix up various sounds and genres while still sticking to their stylistic guns. It's their character, fully fleshed out.
"Ekspedition" in its symphonic harmony helps bring this to light. It feels romantic yet darker than their older stuff but more so, it showcases the cinematic element of Pompeii. You can trace back to the self-titled opener as an instrumental to see how early on in the record these seeds were sewn. It's music made for television, commercials and Danny Boyle movies. Somehow Sunshine and Cilian Murphy pops to mind because the production's even more stellar than what impressed me on Nothing Happens for a Reason and its predecessors.
Soft, shimmering keys, melodic guitars and swirling sprawls of distortion help accentuate the pounding drum beats which accompany Dean Stafford, whose vocals are at their utmost best. Sometimes, he feels a bit drowned out and muffled but no doubt, as songs like "So Close" and "Sleeper" show, this is what they aim for. Instrumental strength. The way they mix low and mid-tempos into loud, soul-crushing explosions feels dialed up a notch this time around. More mainstream yet with a quicker indie flair. "Blueprint" and the Teenage Wasteland-influenced "Drfit" are the best indications of this. They highlight that the previous records were toying and tinkering for what Loom was going to be. A record based less on experimentation and more on the biggest notions of Pompeii's truest self - settled and comfortable in their own skin. The musical vibe feels calmer yet much more authoritative and assured.
With the biggest atmospheric (and at times, noisiest) signature to date off a Pompeii record to date, I think fans should be noting why this album hits home as much as it does. There's an emotional connection established that absorbs and leaves you in awe at the end. Even in earlier segments on Loom you can't help but feel a bit disheveled because everything Stafford says manages to tell a story that feels like it's from YOUR past. "Frozen" which starts off like Blur's "Song 2" but then twists into a David Gray-like feel exemplifies this powerful piece of storytelling. It's Pompeii's versatility at their very best. Then again, that's pretty much the label that Loom earns here. Everything Pompeii's done right before is amplified and then some. It's hard to see them topping this. But if anyone can, it's them.
A triumphant return.