Boston post-rock septet I/O has come a long way in three years. 2014’s Saudade was a solid debut, albeit nondescript. Anyone, Anywhere adds brass and strings and dares listeners to dismiss it. The tasteful integration of these elements, along with careful sequencing, lifts the band’s sophomore effort to a higher level.
Post-rock albums tend to start and end with key tracks. Anyone, Anywhere also has one in the middle. But the idea of adding interludes ~ three short pieces, evenly spaced between the longer compositions ~ allows the album to work more as an singular experience. The listener has time for reflection (while in concert, the band has time to rest). The dynamic contrast allows for greater appreciation of the powerhouse pieces, whose impact might have been diluted back-to-back.
An excellent use of stereo (shifting the instruments to one side or another) adds to the impression that a great amount of thought went into every aspect of the production. The use of road references (“60 // South”, “Allston”, “CB, MA”, “Rte. 89”) underlines the fact that this is a great album to play in the car ~ I’ve taken it on a road trip just to be sure. The upbeat tone, most apparent on the ebullient “Allston”, enhances the enjoyment and draws comparison to Waking Aida’s Eschaton, standing in stark contrast to the “implication of melancholy” Echoes & Dust heard on Saudade.
Every time those extra instruments enter ~ typically during the late crescendos ~ the pulse rate rises. “To Everyone I Could Have Loved & All The Places We Could Have Called Home” sneaks the visitors in a lot earlier, but still saves a surge for the finale. This track starts as a math rock / post-rock blend, but eventually evolves into something more resonant. For this we credit the brass. A subtle jazz undertone anchors “CB, MA”, solidifying our impression that I/O wants to expand the boundaries of its genre. Yet when the familiar post-rock timbres return in the closer, the listener breaths a slight sigh of relief. New friends are always welcome, but we continue to love our old friends even more. (Richard Allen)