“People keep asking if I’m back,” growls Keanu Reeves in the new movie John Wick. His eyes glower, his lips snarl. “Yeah, I’m thinking I’m back!” The same could be said of post-rock powerhouse Jakob, whose eight-year absence left many believing that the band had broken up. Injuries, yes ~ frustrations, yes ~ but dissolution, no. Sines is not only a fine return to form, but a statement of perseverance through trial.
The world became aware of the new album a couple months back with the release of “Blind Them With Science”, an exclamation point of a track that opens the set. All of the trademark Jakob sounds are here – powerful drums, soaring guitars and grounding bass. The interlude acts as a bridge between the rhythmic and the churning. But it’s not the only highlight. Sines actually includes three, the others being “Emergent” and “Harmonia”. The former builds on a repeated riff for most of its length before ceding the stage to strings. This sweeter sound is a wonderful enhancement for the band, contributing a new maturity. The last 75 seconds are particularly moving. In like fashion, “Harmonia” offers guitars that sound like strings, weeping beside the steady drums, offering an elegy for all that has been endured. The real strings enter later, soothing yet melancholic. Hearing these tracks, one regards the band as honed rather than chipped. Not a moment seems wasted; no fat lies on these bones.
The final trio of tracks (“Resolve,” “Darkness”, “Sines”) provides a soft cushion upon which a weary traveler might rest. The current sequencing presents them as an extended coda; play the tracks in reverse order to tell a different story. In this order, the title track is the innocent beginning, and “Blind Them With Science” the fire. But the trio has already come through the fire, and emerged intact. By closing with the most sedate piece, Jakob seems to be saying that it has made peace with its past, and yeah, I’m thinking they’re back. (Richard Allen)