Jenn Wasner backing Madeline during a solid opening set. Photo: Matthew Hunter

Wednesday night at Metro Music Hall saw an appearance by 10-year tour vets Wye Oak, performing songs from their new album, The Louder I Call, The Faster It Runs. The new album, released in April of this year, is the sixth full-length record released by the trio in just over a decade and builds on the foundation they’ve laid with past albums like Shriek and Tween. Of course, a group that has been together as long as Jenn Wasner and Andy Stack will naturally evolve and progress over time, but the noticeable sheen of their live performance on Wednesday night, compared to past years’ performances, might be due in part to the addition of bassist William Hackney. For as long as Wasner and Stack have been performing together, they’ve been doing so as a duo, with Stack playing drums with one hand and operating loops or playing various synthesizers with the other, and Wasner crooning folksy, complex melody lines over guitar, bass and keys. This tour, however, has come with the addition of a third bandmate who, on Wednesday night at least, freed up Wasner to contribute new sonic layers to old songs or to spend more time interacting with the audience.

The crowd was in high spirits, too, despite the unusually hot climate inside the venue. In a rare moment of silence between songs, Wasner commented on the positive energy—“You guys take your woos very seriously around here”—which, in turn, elicited even more cheering. The crowd didn’t seem to be bothered much by the lack of any semblance of cool air either, as a large portion of them showed up early for Madeline Kenney’s opening performance and stuck around to the last notes of Wye Oak’s set. Overall, it was a fun and fresh performance that made for an idyllic summer show.

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teenage sport | lungs EP | Swoody Records

teenage sport
lungs EP

Swoody Records
Street: 06.05
teenage sport = Snail Mail + Harvard

It’s nearly impossible to find local band teenage sport online because when Googling “teenage sport band slc,” all that shows up are KSL articles about teenage sport camps that have happened this summer. Though this makes them a little difficult to find, luckily their music is up and available on Swoody Records’s Bandcamp page. For a band with such earnest, honey-hearted motivations, “teenage sport” seems like a placeholder name while they figure out how to be who they are with a straight face. In the meantime, this record delivers a heavy dose of wonder, the kind you have when you’re young and discovering things for the first time, bundled up into fairly neat little songs.

That’s what they seem to be going for, anyways. Davin Abegg and McKenzie Smith switch offf vocal duties, crooning to themselves, introspective. On the first song, “Lungs,” Smith sings as though mantra-leading “Close your eyes / Let the drums fill the space / Though your heart is gone / You can focus on your lungs.” Toward the end of the song, with slight acoustic build behind their voice, they go on to sing, “This is how we learn how to live for more than words and yesterdays.” Continuing the self-revelationary theme with “I Try,” Abegg sings with a scratching and sincere voice, “I try to make it through the day without wanting to fade away / I try—sometimes it’s hard to.”

Each song follows along these lines. Sometimes it feels slightly melancholic, but all still lifted by little moments of atmospheric weirdness, such as the UFO-esque laser sounds whispering in the background on “Before We Vanish.” On “Trying to be Lonely,” piano pulses with the same timbre of a parlor piano as Smith sings about someone looking for love, or heartbreak—or both—only to realize that she’s “just trying to be lonely.” The album is a good one for those who love sincere and completely unabashed indie, full of the simplicity and authenticity of youthful self-discovery. Lungs is flushed with the big feeling of realizing how small you are, and the music itself is comparably small, a little answer from little humans to the big universe. –Erin Moore

V A L E | V A L E


Street: 07.21
V A L E =  Patrick Cowley + Drexciya

V A L E is the moniker of Nikola Mučkajev, a local electronic producer whose debut album dropped late last month. Across this record’s 13 tracks, Mučkajev engages with a highly overwrought approach to synthesizer music, both its dance-leaning tendencies and more drone-focused sounds. The result is an album of constant evolution, one that seems to move on to the next idea just as one gains momentum.

This style is apparent from the album’s opening moments. “DIASPORA” is a 30-second intro that ends abruptly, a trick that occurs many other times throughout V A L E. After over two minutes of ambient textures and industrial slabs of noise, a high-pitched melody finally enters “THE RAY,” just for Mučkajev to move on after 10 seconds. Listening to this record can feel a bit like playing catch up, and only across multiple listens does the logic of this unorthodox structuring start to unfold.

Some of the most interesting moments on V A L E occur when Mučkajev shifts his approach toward more abstract sounds. “SUBJECTIVITY” begins with a moving string of harpsichord harmonies before it becomes a somber piano and voice duet. Taken as a whole, the track is captivating and contemplative, as is the strange sound collage built out of clocks and telephones that closes out “PLEROMA.” These instances show Mučkajev breaking out of the mode of demonic synthesizers and drums and exploring a wider variety of sounds and styles to a great effect.

The sounds on V A L E reach for a maximal, high-budget pinnacle. This quality gives some of the more upbeat tracks like “AION” and “THE DAEMON” a threatening power, and here it feels like V A L E’s music should blare onto a crowded dance floor in the middle of the night. The latter is the album’s closer, which sends the music off on one of the heaviest, most sonically flooring moments here.

At other times, the production choice has some detriments to the listening experience. On “SPIN,” the digital mixing is so overwrought that the track’s individual parts cannot coexist equally. What starts as one of the deepest bass grooves on the whole album is buried under synthesized choirs and a strangely tropical drum groove.

Mučkajev’s debut does everything a debut should: It showcases everything he’s capable of, as well as his penchant for variety. It also leaves enough room for improvement and evolution, so anyone interested should stay on the lookout for the second V A L E release. –Connor Lockie

XavierTheRapper | 8 Man

8 Man

Street: 08.18
XavierTheRapper = Lil Tracy + Lil Skies + Night Lovell

After releasing his first EP in 2017, XavierTheRapper hasn’t taken a break. Appearing on every music platform you could imagine, as well as releasing 43 additional tracks (yes, you read that right, 43 additional tracks), XavierTheRapper has just now released 8 Man in early August.

The album’s execution and quality really start to back up and prove why XavierTheRapper holds the titles of 8God and “Utah’s next mainstream recording artist.” 8 Man clicks off with some flair and flavor with the aptly named “Caliente,” a track opening with a great flamenco-style sound that quickly transforms into a trap beat as Xavier’s vocals come in. The mood of 8 Man changes as “Caliente” becomes “Pain,” a more somber track with slow vocal samples, acoustic guitar and a heavy beat. Pain covers feelings of depression and anxiety, and as you listen through the rest of the tracks on this album, those themes carry through some of his most outstanding work.

The slower tone continues with the eerie and spacey “Fireman,” which comes in with one of the smoothest beats I’ve heard this year. As “Fireman” fades, 8 Man enters its crown jewel and the track that is gaining XavierTheRapper the most traction, “Won’t Change.” It’s a song about depression, feeling stranded and lost. These are themes that are not only resonating with people but also fit in with the modern scape of mainstream hip-hop. 8 Man closes off with “Boss Crown,” a freestyle on the album’s most mainstream-sounding beat. This is an interesting choice, but I think ending an EP with a freestyle that shows his lyrical chops pays off.

XavierTheRapper shows a lot of skill and potential to make it into the mainstream with his music from his subject matter, to his taste in beats and his voice. I recommend checking out 8 Man and the rest of Xavier’s extensive and expanding discography. –Connor Brady

Follow the Weather | First Light

Follow the Weather
First Light

Street: 06.27
Follow the Weather = Estas Tonne + The Cinematic Orchestra × acoustic Chevelle

I can’t actually remember the last time that I was up early enough to witness first light, so it’s a convenient thing that Follow the Weather have packaged the experience up so concisely in their fourth release, First Light. Lively acoustic strumming, grand string sweeps and mounting keyboard chords paint the picture—a sunrise full of bright and jubilant melodies and mysterious, somber ones. First Light is an experience that feels honed—distilled into a savory ensemble of guitar strums, clean drumming and deep bass humming. This is the kind of album that could easily be listened to while studying. It’s full of soft-spoken interludes and slow builds—but also one that rewards deep listening, with its intricate harmonies, and subtle character. Needless to say, it’s an album that I can wholeheartedly suggest you check out.

I’m honestly a little surprised that I like First Light so much. The album is built upon slow and dramatic builds—think Explosions in the Sky—which don’t usually catch my interest. Coupled with excellent production quality, however, and it’s easy to hear the character of each instrument, lending the experience a much more intricate and intimate savor. The pulse of the album is intoxicating, inviting—nay, demanding that I tap my foot in time with the dance of each song. Acoustic guitar, piano and the occasional bit of drumming make up the bulk of the orchestration, but electric guitar melodies, interesting sound effects and warm bass lines bring the mix to great heights. A particularly impressive climax to the album, “New You You’ve Always Been,” had my jaw on the floor the first time I listened and heard the full might of Follow the Weather’s steady guitar riffage, vitalizing drumming and powerful bass lines.

I can tell that a tremendous amount of work went into the making of First Light, and it really paid off. The rhythms are strong and dancey, the melodies ring in my ears, and the quality of the mix is top notch. Best of all, you can stream the whole album for free on Follow the Weather’s bandcamp! If you’re in the mood for a solid—albeit short—set of instrumentals, then don’t miss First Light! –Alex Blackburn

Plenty of greenery adorns the space. Photo: @clancycoop

With the luscious growth of Salt Lake City comes the entrepreneurial buzz from ambitious and unrestrained self-starters. Within this valuable group of people are locals—and business owners—Jacob Hall, Chase WorthenFernando Lazalde and Michael Askerlund. On the weekend of Sept. 4–6, these gentlemen kicked off their journey opening Downtown Salt Lake City’s latest watering hole, Alibi Bar and Place.

Attending on the Sunday of that weekend, I was able to take part in the fruit of their labor. Located on the corner Main Street and Fourth South in a classic Downtown brick-and-mortar within the New Grand Hotel, the presence of classic metropolitan characteristics—such as exposed brick walls and large windows providing a backdrop of a bustling Main Street—enrich the aesthetic of Alibi. It doesn’t overwhelm the space, setting it apart from being “just another Downtown bar.” The branding is clear. The main theme in the driver’s seat of Alibi’s branding is a bright aqua color present in all of their social media and the physical bar. Alibi’s logo, design and overall branding (designed by The Young Jerks) is a combination of an Art Deco temperament, cool-colored tones, a regal mural/wall hangings with an overall oasis-like feel.

After standing in an electric cloud of people clustering in front of the bar, I was able to finally order a refreshing beverage. Concocted by the creative bartenders/owners is a limited list of craft cocktails such as “Roller Derby” (gin, lime, raspberry and sugar) and more of a traditional cocktail like the “Paloma(tequila, lime, grapefruit, sugar, spicy salt rim and Grapefruit Jarritos). Almost anyone can find what they are looking for with—in addition to house cocktails—Alibi’s satisfying collection of red and white wines, canned house sparkling rosé, bottled and draft beers and a small selection of bar snacks. And of course, they are environmentally conscious by providing compostable straws.

The bar is low enough that you can see all the materials the bartenders use to build your drink, creating a source of entertainment. Behind the group of bartenders whipping around their arms as they make drinks is an appealing, soft, baby blue tile backing to the bar in a rhombus shape. The seating opportunities for patrons seems like a challenge Alibi will overcome. Some people took turns sitting down, and others were animated about saving the seats they could find for their friends. Considering that it was the opening weekend, it’s very possible to imagine that on a less busy night, the bar would be a comfortable place to linger in conversation with friends with enough seating for all.

The social aspect and overall “vibe” of the space was welcoming and unassuming—it doesn’t feel like you had to be categorized as a particular type of person to fit in. With the small list, drinks cover a large spectrum of flavors (it is about quality not quantity), and one does not feel overwhelmed by too many options. It is a simple, open space ready to provide a service for customers wanting to treat themselves to a nice cocktail. It is a place where you can meet with friends to start off your night, with the option of a quick walk to places such as Quarters Arcade Bar or Green Pig Pub.

Down a dimly lit, deep-sapphire hallway at the east end of the bar are two doors. Each of them lead to an important aspect of every bar—the bathroom. Y’all know that’s a trendy, social media–driven responsibility to take cute-ass selfies in the bathroom with all your friends. Alibi gives patrons a lot to work with for the self-sponsored photoshoot. The contrast between the dark hallway and the well-lit, red-floral wall-papered restroom will knock you back. It’s like a door from Hollister leading to Target. Beneath the wall paper about halfway down the wall lies a powder-blue tile, each tile different sizes of rectangles, adding to the eye candy of the bathroom. It’s clever and well planned move on Alibi’s part.

Every element of Alibi brings patrons into a lush boozy nook in the heart of Downtown. Yes, there are a lot of bars popping up all over the city, which I see as a sign of a growing and thriving city excited to cater to the ever growing Salt Lake City nightlife. Alibi provides a different world within that and is worth adding to your Main Street bar-hopping list. You can follow Alibi’s spirited expedition through their Instagram at @alibislc and their Facebook page

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Dustin Wong | Fluid World Building 101 With Shaman Bambu | Hausu Mountain

Dustin Wong
Fluid World Building 101 With Shaman Bambu

Hausu Mountain
Street: 09.14
Dustin Wong = Joe Zawinul’s Dialects + Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith

The latest from Chicago-based experimentalists Hausu Mountain finds avant-rock musician Dustin Wong shifting his sound to fold into the label’s typical stylings. Unlike his work in the blistering prog outfit Ponytail or the chilled-out funk of his collaborations with Takako Minekawa, the music here takes on a colorful, sugar-coated sheen. Fluid World Building 101 With Shaman Bambu is nothing if not flashy. It often praises chaos over order and more over less, pushing nearly all of Wong’s ideas to their manic breaking point.

On most of the tracks, Wong forgoes easily discernable structure in favor of a stream-of-consciousness rush through layers of improvisations and disorienting loops. From the first track, “Nite Drive With Shaman Bambu,” Wong makes clear his love for vertical stacks of sounds instead of horizontal spatializing. Based around an ever-evolving, quasi-tropical groove, Wong piles on pitch-shifted guitars, electronic percussion, warped vocals and other sounds for a shapeshifting seven minutes. Often, this mass of instrumentation combines all at once, and the task becomes trying to pull any one focal point out of the crowded picture.

Because of how overwhelming the clutter can be, the most successful tracks are more spaced out and feature more economically arranged instruments. “Village Made of Zephyr,” in particular, has a welcome airiness. All of the elements that showed up in “Nite Drive” are here as well, but used more sparingly and with more apparent attention to interplay. There are languid melodies here, as well as dramatic chord changes—something that can get lost in the muck elsewhere.

When the air clears, the twisted fusion roots of much of the music on Fluid World Building shows themselves. If you’ve ever listened to Wong’s work with Ponytail, you’d know that he’s a highly skilled musician with a knack for merging memorable melodies with mind-bending guitar workouts. Here, that technicality is present, but it’s often combatted by a goofy electronic line or a kitschy video game aesthetic. “Dawn Thru the Marble Parthenon” pits clanking percussion samples and shimmery synths against rich guitar harmonies, making for a moment that sounds like the offspring of Bill Frisell and Super Mario Sunshine.

All this madness makes the album’s centerpiece and immediate standout, “はずかしがらないで (Don’t Be Ashamed),” feel like even more of a shock. The winding guitar solos and disorienting rhythms fall away, and a bonified pop tune emerges. The combination of plucked string counterpoint, Wong’s intimate delivery and a cosmic synthesizer solo to round the whole thing out make “はずかしがらないで (Don’t Be Ashamed)” a moment of truly ecstatic music.

Wong lives up to his promise of constructing his own reality in that it seems to have little reference to or patience for the outside world. The best way to digest the music, then, is to meet it on its own terms. Following the advice of the final track, titled “New Societies Interacting, Let’s Zoom In,” the music works best when it’s studied like a set of data. If you hyperfocus on “World Builder Imagines a City,” what seemed like the musical equivalent of rainbow vomit turns into a densely interlocking puzzle of seemingly at-odds ideas and gestures. Lean back, and everything muddles. Though it sounds cheery on the surface, the reality of Fluid World Building is some deeply complex and difficult music. –Connor Lockie

IDLES | Joy as an Act of Resistance | Partisan Records

Joy as an Act of Resistance

Partisan Records
Street: 08.31
IDLES = Metz + Protomartyr + Future of the Left

Last year, Bristol-born quintet IDLES kicked in the front door of the underground punk scene with their debut album, BRUTALISM. The record’s furious energy and politically charged lyrics made for an irresistible listen that felt ready to take on the current socio-political era with gritted teeth and clenched fists. A little more than a year after the release of BRUTALISM, IDLES return with the same energy, wit and charisma of their debut with a new emphasis on vulnerability, sincerity, joy and togetherness.

Joy as an Act of Resistance feels exactly like its title would lead you to believe. Lyrically, the album confronts the prevalent issues of toxic masculinity, immigration, nationalism and social and economic inequality, all the while being an album that will leave you tired from dancing and sincerely smiling from the unity and vulnerability preached throughout.

It’s in addressing these relevant political issues with biting and witty lyrics where the album shines, offering some of the best lyrical moments of 2018. During the second act of the opener “Colossus”—a hardcore punk explosion that erupts from the ashes of a brooding Swans-like first act—frontman Joe Talbot offers the incredible lines “I’m like Stone Cold Steve Austin / I put homophobes in coffins / I’m like Fred Astaire / I dance like I don’t care / I’m on my best behavior / like Jesus Christ our savior.” The track “Never Fight a Man With a Perm” is an early instance of the group tackling toxic masculinity as Talbot paints the picture of a stereotypical beefed-up male that’s “one big neck with sausage hands” and ends with an offer to just “hug it out.”

Directly after “Never Fight a Man With a Perm,” the band shows their politics and begins to tackle nationalism, political differences and class inequality on “I’m Scum” as Talbot sings, “I’ll sing at fascists till my hair comes off / I’m lefty. I’m soft. I’m minimum-wage job,” and “This snowflake’s an avalanche!”

As Joy as an Act of Resistance moves forward, listeners dance and thrash to songs that continue to discuss important and recent topics like Brexit and immigration, to ponder the societal expectations of masculinity, and to delve deep into some of the most vulnerable moments of Talbot’s life. “June,” the emotional centerpiece of the album and the most emotionally affecting song in the entire IDLES catalogue, features pulsing synths heightening the strikes of the bass drum as Talbot grieves the loss of his daughter with heartbreaking lyrics like “Baby shoes: for sale. Never worn.” 

All in all, Joy as an Act of Resistance feels like a more fulfilled, more mature vision than Brutalism. IDLES have corrected some of the pacing issues from their debut, evolved their sound, and made their message more concise. The heart of this message can be found in the lyrics of “Danny Nedelko,” a song about Talbot’s love and appreciation of immigrants. Talbot sings, “He’s made of bones / he’s made of blood / he’s made of flesh / he’s made of love / he’s made of you / he’s made of me, unity!”

Joy as an Act of Resistance is ultimately a celebration of people in the face of collapse. If you search through their social media, you’ll find that IDLES and their fans have found a motto of strength in the poetry of Dylan Thomas. IDLES have decided to resist the powers that be by using love and sincerity, admitting their vulnerability in hope that others might admit theirs and join them in not going gently into the seemingly pitch-black night. –Evan Welsh

Alkaline Trio | Is This Thing Cursed? | Epitaph

Alkaline Trio
Is This Thing Cursed?

Street: 08.31
Epitaph Records
Alkaline Trio = Nimrod-era Green Day + The Lawrence Arms

It feels as if Alkaline Trio are sending longtime fans reminders of why they love them. The first track, “Is This Thing Cursed?” starts off sweet and welcoming, then progresses into everything you’d expect from an innovative, modern-day punk band: punk-beats in a 1980s vein, crashing symbols with interesting, hypnotic riffs, a sturdy bassline and, of course, Matt Skiba’s dark vocals.

“Little Help” is probably the most fun and humorous track on the album. It’s the one song that isn’t super poetic or very emotional, but it’s high energy, entertaining and the embodiment of a punk boy matured. Hell, it’s even admitted in the lyrics: “Can anybody here buy this old fool a drink?” and, “Can anybody here give this old fool a lift?” While it may be a funny, filler piece for Is This Thing Cursed?, the boyish charm embedded into this track gives it that lovable trait.

While there may be some points that lose my attention—specifically: “Sweet Vampires,” “Pale Blue Ribbon” and “Heart Attacks”—there are a ton of other songs that stand out from the rest. “Goodbye Fire Island,” is filled to the brim with poetic lyrics, scenic descriptions and reminds me a lot of The Lawrence Arms in their Cocktails and Dreams era. It’s easy to listen to, beautiful and offers enough room for the lyrics to shine through the instrumentals.

“Demon and Division” is easily one of my favorite tracks on the album— it’s punky, it’s sweet and it doesn’t hold back emotionally. Within the first few seconds of the song, the wistful guitar lick in the chorus sweeps me away. Not to mention that Skiba’s voice blends perfectly into the noodling melodies, and it’s enough to melt my heart. This song has easily earned a spot in the “Play 20 More Times Club.”

They chose a perfect song to close out the album: “Kristilline.” It’s one of my favorites of the bunch because the toned-down acoustic guitar and vocals that open the track contrast rampantness of the rest of the album. It’s more relaxed sonically, but while it may be dressed-down, the passion continues to swell up to the chorus when Skiba shouts, “I want you, Kristilline.” His voice expresses desperation and longing—a perfect pairing to the airiness of this track. It’s a straightforward song that isn’t complex as far as construction goes, but it’s simple enough to sing along to, and the emotional heaviness of the track lingers long after the lyrics finish, into the outro. 

On their ninth studio LP, it’s evident that Alkaline Trio have matured along with their fanbase. Compared to their first release in 1999, Goddamnit, you can hear that their foundation is fixed in the fundamentals of ’90s punk—they’re just as edgy as the early days, but with a little more refinement. While overall, the tone of this collection doesn’t scream ’90s-punk revival and leans more toward alternative-radio punk—there’s a lingering presence of the Goddamnit days on Is This Thing Cursed? This progression reminds me a lot of what Blink-182 did, dare I say it. The only difference is that I think Alkaline Trio, while polished up, still haven’t (completely) uprooted their foundations in punk. They recognize their origins, and instead of rebranding themselves for a new audience, they grow alongside the one they already have. While there’s a bit more radio-friendliness throughout this album, there’s no denying that it’s still jammable. Even at their most mainstream moments on this album—such as “I Can’t Believe,” and the title track—Alkaline Trio still put their original, untampered-with signature on them. –Zaina Abujebarah

Spiritualized | And Nothing Hurt | Fat Possum Records

And Nothing Hurt

Fat Possum Records
Street: 09.07
Spiritualized = John Cale/Lou Reed Velvet Underground + unbridled John Coltrane

Jason Pierce has always made music that is different than anything else being done. Spiritualized have always been his vehicle, or spacecraft, and he has always been the spaceman on a mission to bring something interesting home for anyone willing to listen. Even when his albums fell short of what fans and critics were expecting, they were still better than most everything else, especially anything not pushing boundaries.

With Spiritualized’s eighth studio album, And Nothing Hurt, Pierce has bitten off an awful lot to chew—particularly if one considers having to follow his last album, 2012’s panned Sweet Heart, Sweet Light. This time around, he recorded almost everything himself in a room in his London home. Not using a full recording studio and all of its accompanying resources sounds a little crazy—maybe not so much for a generation of DIY musicians. But, for Pierce, who generally incorporates complex sounds and layered subtleties as well as full choirs and large ensembles using non-rock instruments, it was a change, something he isn’t unfamiliar with.

Well, he did it, and painstakingly so. Not having a ton of experience in digital recording, Pierce taught himself on a laptop, bit by bit and recorded And Nothing Hurt alone. I think it came out beautifully.

Nothing in the world sounds like Spiritualized’s 1997 masterpiece, Ladies and Gentlemen…We Are Floating in Space, but I was instantly brought back to that album with And Nothing Hurt’s opening track, “Perfect Miracle.” It’s a wonderful song—complex, heartfelt and a perfect tone-setter to begin a Spiritualized album. That’s just the beginning of the beginning. The following two songs, “I’m Your Man” and “Here It Comes (The Road) Let’s Go,” are the leading singles released earlier this summer to tease and satisfy those awaiting the full album’s eventual arrival.

Pierce’s lyrical prowess is also on parade here, as usual. He gives listeners a truthful glimpse into his reasoning and the things in his life that he is trying to address with each song, all while not coming off as pretentious or overly philosophical. Pierce is ordinarily straightforward, which is a large part of his appeal. His songs are easy to identify with. Most tracks are packed with enlightened gems of wisdom that people can put in their back pocket. One of my favorites from this album is from the song “On The Sunshine.” It says, “If youth is wasted on the young then wisdom on the old”—perfect. And in another yet, this time from “Let’s Dance,” he says to someone he is trying to convince to forget that it’s closing time and dance with him instead. “We’ve got the rest of our lives till the coming dawn/ Hold my hand a while—we’ll go out in style and dance.” Again, perfect, relevant.

I could just rant on about every song on this album—they’re all good, most are fantastic and some absolute classics. But it isn’t truly an examination of a Spiritualized record unless one allows themselves to be immersed under the entire thing. I’ve always loved the wall-of-sound style of production found throughout a lot of Spiritualized’s stuff, and many tracks here are blended in a way that makes it hard, maybe even overpowering, to focus on just one aspect of it all. When I let go of those attempts, however, I am rewarded by something so dense with sound, emotion and joy. It really only works as one, magnificent whole anyway.

On the album’s cover, Pierce is alone, surrounded by a moonlike environment in a spacesuit—a man by himself, somewhere unfamiliar. It’s a fitting visual, which complements a deep album done by the one guy who could actually pull it off. –Billy Swartzfager