Explosions in the Sky - Travels in Constants, Vol. 21: The Rescue (Cover Artwork)

Explosions in the Sky

Travels in Constants, Vol. 21: The Rescue (2005)

Temporary Residence

It's got to be tough being the most popular post-rock band around. I mean, think about it: From a critical point of view, you need to do everything right; your music can't be too long, or else it's boring; it can't be too short, or else it's not even really post-rock; it can't be too much or else it's too difficult to listen to; it can't be too minimalist or else the song drags on, et cetera. That being said, Explosions in the Sky have the proverbial weight of the world on their shoulders whenever they release new material. With the mail order-only (through the band's label, Temporary Residence) new "mini-album," as the band decided EP was not indicative of the status of the material (after all, eight songs in 32 minutes is a regular album for most bands), Explosions in the Sky has made a rather ballsy move: None of the eight songs reaches past 5:19 long, with much less rising and falling action, as well as intensity, than the band's last true effort (not counting the "Friday Night Lights" soundtrack), 2003's masterful The Earth Is Not a Cold Dead Place.

Those looking for the band of two years ago may be disappointed, as the songs are more or less quick, pretty little instrumental pieces in the Explosions in the Sky vein: Very soft, beautiful, and almost sensually styled. As mentioned before, the songs don't really go anywhere on here, as opposed to the twists, turns, and climaxes witnessed on the band's earlier material. I suppose this can be attributed to the fact that each of the songs was written in a day, hence the track titles being "Day One" through "Day Eight." Still, each song is very accessible, even more so than usual, and makes for great relaxation music. The band incorporates almost Christmas-y sounding elements and a bouncy bass line to "Day One," sound clips of a conversation (I have yet to find out where this is from) on "Day Three," and a How Strange, Innocence approach to the final track, "Day Eight," while keeping the Explosions spirit alive (and keeping older fans happy) with easily-recognizable tracks like "Day Five" and "Day Seven." There are even some "oooh's" and "ahhh's" to be found strewn across the album, a first for the band.

People will be surprised by this mini-album. I'm not sure people were expecting this from the band that released such epic material in the past, but once you get over that fact, you will find some pretty alright music. I would be hard-pressed to say this is a fantastic and up-to-Explosions'-standards release, as I too still feel a bit let down, but this is by no means a cop-out. Between this album and the even more minimalist "Friday Night Lights" soundtrack, it will be interesting to see where everyone's favorite post-rock band will go next. By not taking this album completely seriously, you will find some excellent musicianship and some great relaxation music.