Someone really should have had a talk with post rock by now. The bands that rode in on the coat-tails of Don Cab and Mogwai’s early work and the efforts of later groups like Maybeshewill and G!YBE have been oft-lampooned by critics and casual music fans for sounding samey, overindulgent and, ironically, heavily derivative of the radically experimental music that carved out the genre in the first place. The kind of criticism that sweeps away an entire genre with a wave of a hand, though, is often as wrong as it is right. For every generic ‘just-bought-my-first-reverb-pedal’ band there’s a group doing something really special, and Valerian Swing are of the latter type.
Picking up where A Sailor Lost Around The Earth left off, A U R O R A is mathy, bright and joyous. It has riffs pouring out of it’s ears (see ‘Spazio’), it has catchy-ass melodies (I challenge you not to sing along to the gang vocals in ‘Scilla’) and every track belts out like the first day of summer. VS does well not to overindulge in their compositions – tracks normally fall in the 4-6 minute mark, though they retain structural complexity and progression. Quite a few tracks also showcase some math sensibility – notably ‘In Vacuum’.
Arrangement really shines on this record: a wealth of instrumentation is buried in the swells and troughs of distorted guitar – liberal use of brass serve to intensify the builds and make some passages sound absolutely huge. Spots of glockenspiel are particularly effective on the opening and closing tracks, and occasional vocals carry some of the best hooks in the entire affair. The creepy crooning at the beginning of the final track, ‘Calar Alto’ kicks off an 8-minute behemoth that gradually builds to a massive wall of guitars to mark the end of the album. It would also be criminal not to praise the drumming at this point: David is a machine, pounding away like a hailstorm behind the guitars, maintaining lock-step technical perfection and intensity all the while.
In many ways, A U R O R A is a leap forward for Valerian Swing. The band that made A Sailor Lost… were less experienced, with a less refined sound and less direction – A U R O R A knows what it wants, and it will blow you away.
HOLD ON TO YOUR HATS, THE HYPE TRAIN IS UNDERWAY
Post Rock, Math Rock, Distortion, Dreamy, Heavy Effects, Happy