This Might Actually Destroy You
Say what you will about This Will Destroy You, but their name has never worked better. Back when the five-piece was just getting started in Texas, it might have been considered as a cutsie or audacious choice. Now, it’s a fairly appropriate warning for what happens when the tides swell.
This album is particularly difficult to review but it’s easy to make puns with, because This Will Destroy You communicates in Another Language. They speak nonverbally, which inevitably leads to a far more introspective listening experience. Although there might be a focused band standing at the ship’s helm—one with a clear idea of how they want to make you feel—their music is inherently reflective. Listeners can’t help but project their own sea of thoughts onto the musical landscape. “Memory Loss” might soundtrack an epiphany for one and a depression for another.
It’s no wonder why This Will Destroy You hates to be pigeonholed as a post-rock band when it seems like every guitar-driven outfit without a vocalist is arbitrarily assigned this non-descriptor. True, they share some defining characteristics with a band like Hammock, but they also have something in common with doom metal acts like Pentagram. The post-rock tag made more sense back in 2005 because their first efforts were less standout and more universal, but for a while now, they’ve proven intent on exploring new terrains. Another Language shows the band heading down the same path as their last album, Tunnel Blanket, toward a darker, more stylized sound. They’re more heavy duty now in that every climax isn’t touched with beauty. Sometimes they just punch you in the face.
For better or worse, this album relies heavily on the swell-release formula. Songs are so fixated on minimalism and diametric opposition that Another Language plays like a songbook for Daoists. It rests in peace and rages in chaos. The most dynamic moments are often the ambient ones, like the first half of “New Topia,” which utilize different drone elements to create a rich depth of field. These spacious valleys make Another Language a headphones album, while other moments like the entirety of “God’s Teeth” bask in lo-fi. Interestingly, the hardest hitting moments—and there are plenty—showcase their doom gloom with a whole new set of characteristics. Songs like the aforementioned album opener don’t just surge in their second movement, they unify. Strangely and perhaps disappointingly, there’s a shrinking effect that occurs when a rich and varied soundscape transforms into wall of sound production.
This Will Destroy You have been honing their craft for nearly 10 years and while they aren’t quite a household name, none of their contemporaries are either. Still, they probably deserve more attention than they get, as an band that lands comfortably in between the universality of Explosion in the Sky and the art house of Godspeed You! Black Emperor. For listeners of post-rock that hate the word post-rock, This Will Destroy You.