An eerie feeling must have enveloped the members of This Will Destroy You when they realized that their band name was about to become prescient. Over the last few years, the band has been haunted by stress fractures, tragedies, and the loss of founding members. Would infighting, tour pressures and personal losses cause the band to break up? At one point, it seemed a foregone conclusion: the same music that brought them together would eventually destroy them. And yet, as the saying goes, “What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger”, and while the saying does not always apply, in this case it’s obvious. This Will Destroy You is back in a big way, tighter and stronger than ever.
The haters haven’t helped. For some reason, many “fans” who liked the band’s 2008 EP, Young Mountain, never forgave them for a shift in sound on their self-titled debut album. And yet, that album contains what may be the band’s signature song, “The Mighty Rio Grande” ~ which vindicated the band when it was used in the film Moneyball. The haters continue to operate – see the online ratings of the current album posted even before the promos were sent – but let them hate. The band has addressed every possible criticism. Another Language is a reflection of its title, as it speaks a different language from prior releases. Once again, TWDY has demonstrated that it is not afraid to metamorphose. The album is actually less accessible than its ancestors: more intricate, intelligent and emotional than it has any right to be. For those who wonder, this is a compliment. At a point in its career when the band is headlining festivals and might be content to rest on its laurels, recording simple songs for the mainstream, it has decided to head in the opposite direction.
One of the most obvious changes is an increased use of feedback and tape noise. The album is simultaneously released on CD, LP and tape, and this change is especially suited for the cassette format. A layer of murk and grime descends upon the proceedings, making these timbres seem as mysterious as the silt at the bottom of the ocean. The secondary effect of such a change is that when the songs scissor-kick to the surface for oxygen, the contrast is even greater – for example, consider the final minute of the album’s longest track, “War Prayer”, which sounds like thwarted hypoxia.
The album also benefits from a solid sense of flow, which is apparent on the following pieces, “The Puritan” and “Mother Opiate” – not quiet-loud-quiet, but quiet-quiet-quiet, a long recovery from crescendo. It’s easy to take these songs as metaphor: a reflective period following chaos, leading to resolution. This sets the stage for the gently rhythmic “Invitation”, the first part of the set-closing tryptich. The album serves as a microcosm of the band’s journey, operating as a full-length suite. Those searching for highlight tracks may consider “Invitation” a perfect 4-minute distillation of the band’s strengths, and lead single “Dustism” as the perfect set closer, but out of order, their power would seem dulled, like scattered chapters of a book. The perfect closer is instead the band’s choice, “God’s Teeth”, which rises and descends on gentle ivory wings, as if to say, “This did not destroy us.” The stage is now set for the band’s second phase: another era, another language. (Richard Allen)
Release date: 16 September