Have no fear of the Explosions in the Sky. Rather than signalling the demise of our humble little planet by earth-bound asteroids, they channel all the power and majesty of Fourth of July fireworks. Like their previous albums — namely 2003’s “The Earth Is Not a Cold Dead Place” — their latest release proves that Explosions have mastered instrumental arrangements. On their fourth full-length, “All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone,” they more than compensate for the loneliness suggested by the title with the warm splendor of their flawless execution.
There is a purity in the music of Explosions in the Sky, a complete and eloquent narrative that unfolds smoothly and with precision. Cinematic in scope, their union of piano, guitar, bass and drums follows the arc of traditional dramatic structure: Each album opens subtle and restrained before it cautiously develops into a climactic swell, only to cascade in meditative denouement.
“All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone” is composed of six tracks, each with its independent arc, but when the trajectory of each is strung together, the album as a whole strikes an arresting albeit honeyed blow. The album begins with a powerful yet delicate twinkle of guitars — the chords ride atop one another almost to the point where they would sound grating, but instead of being weighed down by this octave building, they rise lightly and are lifted toward a milky haze.
The album’s calm before the storm, “What Do You Go Home To?,” hints at the chaos to come. The track is soft and smooth, as a pensive guitar and solitary bass drum carry silk and elegance throughout the piece. However, the distant fluttering of piano challenges the serenity that dominates “All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone,” and a breakdown can be heard in the distance.
From the outset of the aptly-titled “Catastrophe and the Cure,” drums and guitar erupt into a stunning crescendo. Bouncing the wild off of the wistful, the track is consistently dynamic, as the instruments plumb the depths of their registers and the composition explores the heights of labyrinthine structure. The track then slides into the album’s reserved glimmer of a finale, “So Long, Lonesome.”
In today’s pop music, it is not often that a band can convey emotion and narrative without the aid of lyrics, but Explosions in the Sky all but exhaust the aural forces of their instruments to produce a unified story and clear sound. This is a welcome change after so many artists rely on the same topics — love, heartbreak, depression and death — as their sole inspiration for music. Explosions’ firm and clear focus on the mere tonal capabilities of their four instruments lends an ironic and welcomed freshness to their work.
Explosions in the Sky often draws comparisons to Mogwai and Godspeed! You Black Emperor, but unlike their fellow post-modern instrumentalists, this Texan quartet always delivers a coherent piece of music. Their diaphanous catharsis is the result of careful plotting and gradual layering. Of course, there is ample room for meandering, and a hopeful searching does pervade each piece, but in the end, Explosions delivers nothing more than beautiful, thorough and thoughtful music.