Pleasant but far too specific
Music can fulfill numerous purposes. Sometimes it exists solely as a cathartic exercise for the creator, other times it is simply a money making venture. At its best, music aims to evoke a specific feeling in its listener while honestly expressing the views and emotions of the artist who created it. This Will Destroy You is a San Marcos, Texas-based group that has put out classics like their self titled record (a staple of post-rock), and perfectly embodies that type of artist. Despite this, their latest record Vespertine, a project created to score the 2-Michelin Star restaurant of the same name in Culver City, CA, marks a notable shift in the sound profile of these seminal artists, but for obvious reasons.
While it isn’t unwelcome when a band changes or alters their sound, it can come with consequences. This latest shift by TWDY sees them aiming for a more ambient, textural experience than ever before. Where there were mountains and valleys now sit smooth grassy plains. The upside is that Vespertine is easier to get lost in than nearly any other TWDY release, while the downside is that it is easier to lose the thread of the album.
In general, the tracks on this record do little to differentiate themselves from one another. Of course, this is by design, one can’t expect a fancy restaurant to be blasting loud party music all day (though Animal, another famous LA establishment, does do this). The tracks are intended to be both looped, and experienced in sequence, which makes them slightly disconnected, despite their thematic similarities. The track titles include “Building,” “Entrance,” “Dining Room” and “Garden.” Without the knowledge of what this record is, the album doesn’t make much sense, but when paired with its intended setting it certainly does set a mood.
Because of the need for the tracks to be impactful without being distracting, there aren’t any particular standouts from a compositional standpoint. Both “Dining Room” and “Garden” serve as focal points on the record, but this only follows logic as the restaurant boasts a lovely dessert/tea garden where guests may linger as long as they like, while the dining room is obviously the central experience of any restaurant. This works for the album’s intent, but does leave it somewhat lacking when listened to outside of its hyper-specific setting.
When viewed for what it is, Vespertine is a successful blending of two distinctly unique art forms. From seeing the futuristic exterior of Vespertines, people can conclude that Vespertine, the album, is a stroke of genius, but only within one building. When listened to outside of its intended setting it is relaxing, cool, and meandering. Though the final product is sure to leave listeners wanting should they be expecting a full-fledged TWDY experience.