Explosions in the Sky: End
For a group of instrumentalists, Explosions in the Sky have always made nakedly lyrical music. We can glean whatever clues we want from the song titles, but the Texas post-rockers’ punch-the-sky guitar tremolo and lightning-bolt cymbals evoke scenery and theme more clearly than most bands’ literal poetry. Since they’re working with a rare gift for the dramatic, often building to rapturous crescendos, many of their tracks seem destined to score life’s biggest moments—falling in love, breaking up, even dying. So it feels inevitable that they’d title an album End, using the concept of finality as a launching pad into some of their most quintessential, stirring pieces. It’s been seven years since the last Explosions LP, The Wilderness, on which they took a more painterly path toward the same big-hearted vistas, weaving in electronics, strings and way more tonal variety. Some of those colors have survived. “Ten Billion People” kicks off with a scramble of ping-ponging synths, and pianos resound through a handful of epics, including “All Mountains,” in which the guitars pulsate like helicopter propellers and drift gently like daffodils. These guys feel every emotion intensely—the gentle stuff is always impossibly precious, and the heavy stuff barrels you like a battering ram. And the album’s ultra Hi-Fi production (take a second to appreciate that swooshing hi-hat and tumbling tom fills on “Moving On”) only nudges them further into the sublime. As always, words would only clutter the catharsis.