Five years ago my friend Bill Gordon introduced me to the musical genre of post-rock.
For those of you not in the know, my capsule summary usually goes something like this — “Oh, it’s kinda orchestral but with traditional rock instruments. No vocals. It doesn’t rely on the verse chorus verse chorus conveyor belt” OR “You know when you’re watching a movie and you notice how the music is really important to the feelings you’re having? Yeah, that’s probably post-rock.”
The first band Bill introduced me to was Signal Hill. You can read this old ass review I did of the Signal Hill song “Luna Park” on this very site, here.
I immediately got what was going on, not just with Signal Hill (a really awesome band, btw), but with the genre as a whole. Bill passed more bands my way, some of them more famous than others–Explosions in the Sky, MONO, This Will Destroy You
Which brings me to my purpose here.
Let’s discuss Departure Songs, the newest album from We Lost the Sea. It’s five songs, but clocks in at more than an hour. The thematic glue of the album is to celebrate the noteworthy, but ultimately doomed exploits and adventures of South Pole explorers, the men who stopped Chernobyl from becoming an even greater tragedy, and perhaps most dramatically to this listener, the crew of the Space Shuttle Challenger which blew up in front of us all nearly 30 years ago.
The opening track “A Gallant Gentleman” is a little more than six minutes and is a fine introduction to We Lost the Sea, Departure Songs, and the post-rock genre. It starts quietly, builds into a melodic monster, and then finally crashes into an emotional heap before sliding into the denouement.
Here’s an official video for “A Gallant Gentleman.”
If you like that song (and how could you not?), I suspect you’ll like the whole album.
For a much cooler and more in depth review of Departure Songs, I urge you to read this review at Echoes and Dust by Nick Dodds who wrote a painstaking exploration of the songs and the inspiration behind them.
My friend Bill is a record collector. He’s the kind of guy that buys vinyl. Why does that matter to you? Because this December, for the first time, Departure Songs will be available in the United States on vinyl (previously, you’ve been stuck with digital downloads). And that’s why I chose to review this fine album now.
This really is an incredible, emotionally heavy album and I highly recommend it.
Standout tracks: “A Gallant Gentleman” and “Challenger Part 1 – Flight”