Exploded View have consistently shown an ability to make experimental music work with traditional cores. Their latest efforts see them going in bold new directions and exploring these concepts from dozens of angles. If it wasn’t for the split feeling you get between the more rock-driven and explorative songs on the record, this album would certainly be a consistently mesmerizing listen.
Exploded View’s ability to make harsh tones feel epic is instantly palpable on “Lullaby” where deep bass opens into a creepy almost Rosemary’s Baby like crawl. This mixed with the creepy synth hook lull you into the album’s mesmerizing energy for a truly invigorating experience. With all the noise rushing around the background of the album you feel like you’re somewhere else, which makes the bubbly tones in something like “Open Road” all the more ominous. This uncertain tone in conjunction with the otherwise ritualistic flow the song presents continues the mystical tones interestingly.
What’s unexpected of Exploded View is the weird primitive electronic drive of a song like “Dark Stains” where they expand such simple beats into something organic and build a pace off it that really feels entrancing. Every vocal and new sound builds into the track’s momentum as it rides towards a massive and fiery end. They continue a few of the remaining pieces of this run on “Gone Tomorrow” where the entire production breaks into a floating cloud of sounds falling in and out of the progression. Though it’s not too catchy there’s something oddly soothing to the loop the song builds and slowly tweaks. Even “Obey” seems to be part of this larger concept, where the swirl of synths slowly gives way to letting other hooks punch through the noise. This also proves a little more divisive as this kind of writing is much less immediately engaging and varies so little that you’ll have to really sink into it to appreciate it all the way through.
This all drops away as Exploded View kick out on the piercing highs of “Sleepers” and the rollicking beats let the vocals dance as if they’re possessed. This sense of freedom oozes in every explosive synth surge and let its ugly moments feel like a welcome shift in tone. In this way many of the slower songs actually see the band exploring their writing and finding new places to start, but this somewhat transparent album-building doesn’t always leave the record feeling listenable. In the case of “Letting Go Of Childhood Dreams” there’s a simple concept that Exploded View start to warp in really sudden shrieks and blasts of high-end noise, but this can be empty for some. “Raven Raven” returns to the spell-like chug that sees the pop-end of the album soaring, as a hardy bass run is bolstered through the goose bump-inducing sound work of their riffs. With drums that play right along with Annika Henderson’s vocals, the song is a truly tribal experience.
As harsh as it is, that same idea is why it’s so exciting to see Exploded View embracing the rock on “Come On Honey” where their infectious tones are only made more fun through their relentlessly heavy delivery. Simple and to the point, this track is just sheer fury without a constraint. They flip this into electronica on “Rant” for a final rush full of all their intriguingly weird sound work. While it takes in many of their best qualities, it does feel like an oddly slow-paced song in terms of writing to really make the album end satisfyingly.
Words by Owen Maxwell
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