sleepmakeswaves declares its return in a big way in the first few seconds of the new album, as a single drum beat is immediately followed by a skittering of electronic drums and a cavalcade of guitars. As the title indicates, it’s a “Perfect Detonator”, plunging the listener into the Sydney band’s exciting post-rock world. When lead single “Something Like Avalanches” topped our ACL Singles Chart in June, we thought it couldn’t be beaten. We were wrong; and there’s plenty more where that came from. Love of Cartography captivates from start to finish, and is the band’s most consistent work to date.
The quartet has been honing its skills for more than half a decade. The first sign of brilliance was the now-classic “one day you will teach me to let go of my fears”, the highlight of the band’s debut EP. While this was a great song, the drawback of its popularity was that fans were hoping to hear more of the violin, which was only a guest star. But the band’s compositional skills continued to grow to the extent that the violin was no longer missed. A stellar split album with Tangled Thoughts of Leaving was followed by an album and subsequent remix disc (packaged as one in the U.S.), which featured “a gaze blank and pitiless as the sun”. This time the trumpet stood out: another guest. But on the new album, the guitar, bass and drums are the standouts, all played by the primary four. Three years of touring have helped the quartet to hone their sound, and as a result the album is packed with potential festival favorites.
While there’s nothing here as long as the extended tracks of … and so we destroyed everything, two of the tracks top eight minutes: “Emergent” and closer “Your Time Will Come Again”. The former grows from a soft, meditative beginning to a riff-packed center, calming down only in its final minute, but not by much. The latter coasts on a sea of sweet piano, bass and electronic drums for half its length before offering the opposite of an interlude: a soft squall that it rides through on its way to a gentle landing on the opposite coast. The tension between live and electronic drums brings to mind 65daysofstatic, who also shares an aversion to spacing, a love for remixes and a post-rock sound.
Harder-rocking tracks such as “Traced in Constellations” and “The Stars Are Stigmata” offer little in the way of ambience, but much in the way of thrills. The latter is highlighted by a crisp percussive breakdown and heavy speaker-to-speaker action. The best track title is “How We Built the Ocean”, whose music reflects the words, building piece by piece, section by section, until a sea of waves is achieved. The fact that so many tracks are mentioned is evidence of the album’s success. Love of Cartography isn’t a single or two backed by other tracks; it’s a full-length achievement.
Numerous buying options are available, including the opportunity to purchase the band’s entire back catalog. I already have everything, so this option didn’t tempt me; but for those who are just getting to know the band, it’s the recommended option. Love of Cartography has cemented sleepmakeswaves’ reputation as one of the world’s premier post-rock bands. (Richard Allen)