Spurv ~ Myra

We’ve been waiting all year for a great post-rock album, and as summer approaches, we’ve finally gotten one. Norwegian sextet Spurv has made major strides since 2015’s Skarntyde, which demonstrated substantial progress from 2012’s debut.  On Myra, the tracks are shorter, the riffs more diverse, the power through the roof.  This is not a headphone album, or even a car album; it deserves the full speaker treatment.  Even a house is hardly enough to contain its energy; an outdoor stadium would be perfect.  Spurv means sparrow, but here it sounds like a pterodactyl.  As soon as those monster riffs drop in “et løfte i fall,” we’re sold.

Spurv is continually in search of its best sound.  The jump from average to good (2012-2015) wasn’t satisfying enough for the band, whose goal was to go from good to great.  A few friends came along for the new recording sessions, including members of Moe and Ulver.  Together, what a lovely racket they make.  The one-two punch of “og ny slog baeres frem” and “far dypet under stenen” is the best thing we’ve heard in this category since Do Make Say Think’s “Bound and Boundless” a year ago: a no-holds-barred style that leaves one pleasantly drained.  But Mono is a better comparison, as many are likely to hear traces of Hymn to the Immortal Wind, especially when strings and brass collide, producing an enormous impact.  The difference between them is that Spurv has abandoned long repetitions in favor of greater melodic turnover.  There’s even a glockenspiel (sparingly used), a nod to some of the post-rock’s most memorable productions.

The album surges into action, then allows emotion to bleed through, until its cathartic finale “allting får sin ende, også natten” (“everything ends, even at night”).  First comes piano and a poetic voiceover.  Then a volcanic eruption of guitar and bass: exquisite dynamic contrast and divine stereo effects.  Just when it seems the song has peaked, the strings enter against a cascade of drums.  As the final chords crash and the music fades, one is left with a feeling of bittersweet gratitude.

Some say the golden years of post-rock are over, and that all the best bands are on their way down.  But Spurv is like a salmon (laks), swimming against the tide.  Myra sounds like a classic.  It’s the post-rock album to beat in 2018.  (Richard Allen)

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