Album Review: This Will Destroy You – “Another Language”

A lot can be said about post-rock, but not without mentioning This Will Destroy You. Once again they have shown us how great the genre can be with their own style of post-rock on their new album “Another Language”, which comes out on September 16th. This album is nothing short of a masterpiece, and I will take my time to guide you through the album and hopefully experience what I first experienced when I heard it. Check out my lengthy review of This Will Destroy You’s recent album after the jump.

 

I first listened to this album on a long car ride very, very late at night. It felt like the perfect time for me, watching the cars blow by me as I watched half-asleep. There was a very peaceful silence, but I felt like it was time to put on some relaxing music to pass the time. “New Topia”, the first song on the album, did just that. It starts with a very tranquil strike of the piano keys, and a subtle atmosphere built by guitars. It feels almost dreamy, and then the guitar picks up. The drums come too, very silent at first, but of course, they build up. The drums get louder and louder, until, silence. All at once the guitars kick in, heavy and distorted, and the drums are pounding. Fast hits on the snare and crash blend together, until the fills mainly compose of the snare. This is probably the heaviest track on the album in my opinion, and it deserves to be. This song is almost a warning to listeners, saying “Get ready” for what’s coming next on the album.

Next up is “Dustism”, which was the first single released for the album. This track sounds very nostalgic, and the echoing snare hits add to that sound. The light guitars in the back make the listener almost feel sad, or at least it did for me. The very precise uses of electronics on this album amazes me, and it is shown on this song and others. It is very unique to This Will Destroy You, and it helps the songs reach the highest potential that it strives for. About halfway through the song, everything cuts out except tiny guitar chords, and a simple beat of a foot pedal. This leads for the drums to come in, building up on the snare as the electronics hold the song. The soothing atmosphere gets increasingly fuzzy, little by little. When the instruments get to the peak of the build up, the guitar ignites and the song comes alive. The drummer dominates the crash as the guitars blast out fuzz. This song is very powerful, and it took more than one listen for me to realize that. After the last ambient synth fades away, “Serpent Mound” starts.

This is my personal favorite of the record, and I’ll explain why. The mellow atmosphere in the beginning is a given. Is it almost expected, but in this case, it’s different. Everything sounds glitchy, and broken apart. The electronics give off that feeling shortly after the song begins. The piano still plays softly, almost unaware of the sounds that are happening around its own. The piano then gives out to a very prominent and glitchy electronic part. At once, silence, then an explosion of sound I can’t describe with words. This song hits you with everything it has, and still has the broken electronic sound in the background. The guitars come in with such energy that cannot be matched anywhere else on the album, and the distorted and fuzzy sound it brings with it is astonishing. I’ve never heard a build up that I’ve fallen in love with as much as that one, and that goes for every post-rock song I’ve ever heard.

Then, “War Prayer” comes in. A very distant and unique drum beat comes in, and a lone guitar accompanies it. Every song so far has had amazing amounts of energy and power, and War Prayer is no different. A very early build-up plays into an amazing sound of guitar chords with a guitar melody playing in the background. It has such an interesting and almost alien sound to it, but it’s also very pleasing to your ears, and you keep listening. Finally, a break in the song, and back comes the ambient synths. This is one of the rather longer songs on the album, clocking in at around seven and a half minutes. After several minutes of a soft melody, a beat comes in, gets faster, and then the second burst of life in this song comes. It is stated that this is one of the band’s proudest songs that they’ve ever written, and I definitely agree.

This album has been punishing the listeners with such powerful performances, and a rest is much needed. “The Puritan” does just that, and it gives us a very space-like feel. What I mean by that is that it feels almost empty, and something about it makes me feel like I’m looking at all the stars in the night sky. This song is under three minutes long, so there isn’t much to say about it, but that doesn’t mean it should be skipped over in any way. This song is just as good as the rest, just for a different reason.

The sixth song on the album, “Mother Opiate”,  which has an almost jazz-like sound, but too slow to actually sound like it fully. This track is held by the simple taps of the high hat and the soft touch of the foot pedal, with a very creepy atmosphere in the background. This is a song you really have to pay attention to, with all the noises that can only be heard if you listen close enough. When you get towards the end of the song, the drums disappear and all you’re left with is a fading synth, until “Invitation” begins.

Right away you hear a loud drum beat that commands the song. Led mainly by that drum beat, the guitars and synths seem only to follow, as the drum beat gets more intricate. This is very atypical for most post-rock songs, which seem to be led mainly by the guitars. As the song progresses, the atmosphere thickens, and more guitars chime in. Something about the piano in the background reminds me of elevator music, but in a good way. I wish I could hear songs like this in elevators. This song is constantly building up, with no signs of slowing down. After two songs of mainly soft and slow melodies, this song is a perfect fit to break the mold.

We’re nearing the end of the album, and the second to last song, titled “Memory Loss” is a beautiful and very emotional song. It’s somewhat hard to describe this song, because I connect it deeply with memories I can think back to when I was younger. I can’t tell if that’s because it’s suggested in the name of the song, or the music itself brings that out. The way the guitar quietly plays in the background really gets to me, and it might get to you as well. About four minutes into the song is when “Memory Loss” really hits home for me. I never thought two simple notes could hold so much emotion behind it. The way those notes stand above the song makes it all the more beautiful.

Unfortunately, we are at the last song on the album. “God’s Teeth” starts with a mesmerizing piano, and the echo is haunting. The electronics that come in shortly after have a heavenly feel to it, and it almost feels like you’re being lifted to heaven itself. It has a very unique sound, one I haven’t heard from anywhere else before. This song is very calming, and it has the feeling like your journey is about to come to an end. As you near the end of the song, everything fades out, and gets distorted. You still hear the song, the piano with echoing guitars, but it’s coated in a layer of fuzz and distortion. As fast as it came, it disappears into static, and the album ends. What are you supposed to do now? Listen to it again.

What makes this album amazing is what you don’t hear. Every time I listen to this album, no matter what song it is, I hear something different that I didn’t hear before. I catch things that I really enjoy, but have never heard it until that listen. It’s hard to describe this album, and I did my best to be descriptive as possible, but this album needs to be heard from within. Instrumental music is what the listener makes of it, so you may not feel the same way I do for certain songs. Everyone will have their own experience when listening to this album, and I’d love to hear what everyone gets out of it that I don’t.

To simply state it, This Will Destroy You put out my favorite album of the year. Even though 2014 isn’t over, I am doubtful anything will top this for me. This album will make anyone a post-rock fan, even the ones who consider it “boring”. They do a great job of implementing new ideas and sounds into their music, and they keep building on their sound to make it more complete with every release. Fans of old This Will Destroy You will get a kick out of this just as much as fans of the more recent This Will Destroy You (but I’m sure everyone enjoys both the old and the new like I do). This album is a perfect 10/10 for me, but I don’t think that rating gives it justice. This album isn’t just about what you hear, it’s about what you feel as well.

You can stream the album on Pitchfork here, and pre-order it from their website. Please, take some time out of your day, put on some headphones, and listen to this album. I would love to hear what other people hear when they listen to this album, so feel free to comment and share what you thought.