While they’re not yet an indie-rock Old Faithful, gushing on cue with regularity enough to set a watch by, …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead continue to prove themselves remarkably consistent.
The Texan outfit’s adventurous rock – sometimes flirting with raucous punk, at others embracing elaborate prog, occasionally turning an ear the way of more classical tropes – has established their reputation as makers of reliably rapturous fare. And their appropriately titled ninth album does nothing to shake high standards down to lower levels of expectation.
‘IX’ is a finely detailed exercise in establishing and exploiting excitement levels, at points telegraphing its trajectory but always delivering substantial payoffs.
‘How To Avoid Huge Ships’ is the Texans doing thrilling post-rock, full of busy guitars that rise to euphoric peaks, driven by tried-and-tested percussive tumult. Elsewhere, the drums journey beyond conventional rock designs, arriving on the African continent via Celtic highlands for the mid-section tribal dance of closer ‘Sound Of The Silk’.
‘Lie Without A Lair’ and ‘Bus Lines’ are more typical of these musicians’ past releases, but like everything else here the songs arrive with passionate hearts fit to burst. ‘The Ghost Within’ (video below, previously premiered on Clash) is another Conrad Keely-led riot of noise and romance, of the kind this band so successfully forded on 2002’s ‘Source Tags & Codes’. Throughout, sincerity is never in short supply.
‘IX’ is no ‘Source Tags & Codes’ or ‘Madonna’, of course, but that period of …Trail Of Dead is crystallised, untouchable. It’ll always be the go-to era for newcomers. However, for any band to still be making music that can thrill like this so long into a career initially marked by short-fuse tempers and live-show histrionics, and after numerous line-up changes, warrants warm applause.
Words: Mike Diver
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Listen to ‘IX’ on Deezer, below…