Thursday, March 15, 2007

Do Make Say Think, You, You're A History In Rust

Do Make Say Think
You, You’re A History In Rust (Constellation)
Grade: B

Post-rock may have lost its buzz amongst critics and underground rock fans, but that doesn’t mean the sub-genre as a whole should be written off. While You, You’re A History In Rust , the latest effort from Canadian collective Do Make Say Think (which features members of Broken Social Scene) is certainly no Young Team or F# A# Infinity , You has more than enough merit to it (even if the album is unlikely to become a post-rock touchstone).

I once read a description of Broken Social Scene that referred to the band as sounding like a jam session between Sonic Youth and the Sea and The Cake. At the very least, You, You’re A History In Rust makes it clear to the listener where the Sea and The Cake part of that equation comes in. Album opener “Bound To Be That Way” is ripe with the kind of quiet, subtle, and jazzy instrumental interplay that is the hallmark of Sea and the Cake’s work. In addition, the song has the pleasing major-seventh chord based riffs and understated horn arrangements reminiscent of the slower moments on BSS classic You Forgot It In People .

Like most post-rock, the vocals (a first for the band) on You are hushed and purposefully buried in the mix, as evident in the album’s second track, “A With Living.” The song starts out with a faint guitar riff, drums played with brushes, and quivering, Neil Young-like singing from various guest vocalists before segueing into a thoughtful, atmospheric instrumental passage that carries on until the end of the song.

The rest of the album follows a pattern similar to “A With Living”. The songs start out quietly, build a little bit, then add and subtract different musical phrases and instruments, all bouncing off one another, disappearing and reappearing with ever so-much taste and restraint. The effect is all very pleasant and reassuring but, at the same time, kind of boring.

What You, You’re A History In Rust needs is more visceral moments, like the one at the end of “Executioner Blues”. After six minutes of the typical post-rock give-and-take, it’s nice to hear the band just fucking go for it and build to a noisy, invigorating climax. It’s an excellent change of pace, and it gives the album a much-needed kick-in-the-ass.

The last song, “In Mind,” is also a departure from the rest of the album, in that it follows a fairly straightforward, but not quite “verse-chorus-verse,” template. After 45 minutes of exploring sonic landscapes, it was nice just to hear a direct song with an infectious melody.

You, You’re A History In Rust hardly reinvents the post-rock wheel, but Do Make Say Think have again proved that they are a group consistently capable of making thoughtful, intelligent music. If you’re going to listen to something just for the sake of putting up sonic wallpaper, you could do a whole lot worse than Do Make Say Think.

(Jonathan Graef)

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