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10 out of 10
So first review of a new year, a new decade in fact, and I'm going to start with a good one. Scratch that, I'm going to start with a fantastic one. Over the next few hundred words, I am going make it my mission to drill in to you just how startling brilliant this album is.
Saxon Shore is a post-rock band based up in the east of America, who released arguably one of the most over-looked albums in the genre in 2005 with 'The Exquisite Death of Saxon Shore'. After years of silence they have returned with It Doesn't Matter (which was released last year but is being deservedly pushed due to an upcoming European tour).
The album itself is 10 tracks of cohesive, impassioned and beautiful rock music. It's not often you find rock music that can make such an impact on you, but this, like their previous album, has the capacity to do that. Saxon Shore truly stands out as some of the finest musicians and composers in their genre. As you can see I am mentioning 'genre' a lot, however, do not think that this is an album for those elitists who give post-rock a bad name. This is, at its core, a fundamentally brilliant album. It needs to be appreciated by all.
Tracks like Thanks For Being Away showcase the bands many talents. The chiming guitars create the melody, which imbue the song with its heart, but it is the drums that drive it. Rare in post-rock to find the drums so prominent, but for Saxon Shore it is more than just background percussion, the cymbal crashes and bass drum are an identifiable voice in the song.
I apologize for the pretentiousness of the previous paragraphs, but it is truly hard not to get carried away when listening to, and subsequently describing, this album. The musicianship is first class, as it has to be. With no lyrics (save for female vocals on This Place) there is no room for error and every instrument and every layer has to bring something to the song, which on almost every track it does.
Right, back to being annoyingly pretentious again.
There is an underlying beauty in Saxon Shore's work. On slow-burning Tweleven, which is lead by a haunting piano line; the song develops as you listen to it, bringing in the instruments first alone, and then culminating by bringing them all together. Bringing the song to a cacophonous conclusion, in which every part is recognisable, yet at the same time completely different, with the whole becoming so much more than the sum of its parts.
I could go through every song on this album and pick out moments that would qualify as being beautiful, or amazing, or fantastic, or unbelievable, and various other words that aren't used to describe music very often. But I won't, because that would be tedious, but just know that it is the case.
Though I do feel I have to mention the vocal work on This Place, similar to the vocals on any Sigur Ros track, though with recognisable words, the voice becomes an instrument, blending in with the other instruments. It is quite.well I've already mentioned various words to describe what it is, just put one in yourself.
And while So Long, Goodnight is one of the best album closers I have heard, it is not this that I want to finish on. I have an obsession with trying to playlist moments of my life. Saxon Shore are already on most of these lists with songs off their last album, but it is Sustained Combustion that will take pride of place on every playlist I concoct from now on. It has the catchiness of a pop song and the beauty of actual art. So Saxon Shore, you will be played at my wedding, and inevitable funeral and almost everything in between.
It Doesn't Matter is undeniably a fantastic album; it is deep and layered, deserving of multiple listens. It rewards listeners who pay attention, but doesn't punish those who just want something to relax to. It is beautiful music, and it shows that music can make you feel emotions that you wouldn't expect to when you sat down and put your headphones on.
1. Nothing Changes
2. Thanks For Being Away
4. This Place
5. Sustained Combustion
6. Bar Clearing Good Times
7. What Keeps Us Up
8. Small Steps
9. Tokyo 412am
10. Goodnight, So Long