Even though they released their last full-length album clear back in 2003, Explosions In The Sky haven't been completely taking it easy since then. In addition to worldwide touring, the group created some music for the movie Friday Night Lights and went off into a cabin for a week to write music for what would become their now rare and sought-after The Rescue EP as part of the Temporary Residence label's Travel In Constants series. In particular, the music on that latter release found the group moving in a different direction, largely tabling their sprawling, epic work for a series of quieter sketch tracks that incorporated everything from field recordings to some pretty piano work.
In some ways All Of A Sudden I Miss Everyone feels like sort of a career retrospective from the group all wrapped up into one nice release. There are tracks that capture the thunderous bombast of their live shows, quieter pieces that highlight the interplay of their intertwining lead guitars and yes, a couple of tracks that prominently feature piano. It's more varied stylistically than any of their previous albums, including their excellent second album Those Who Tell The Truth Shall Die, Those Who Tell The Truth Shall Live Forever. and the quieter The Earth Is Not A Cold Dead Place, which hasn't aged as well to my ears.
"The Birth And Death Of The Day" opens the release and is easily one of the more massive songs, starting with soaring guitars and a couple rolls of drums before segueing into some quieter interplay. About halfway through, the track again brings back some rapid bursts of drums before kicking into a blowout section that finds the group tweaking the tempo and dynamics just slightly to keep things interesting. "Welcome, Ghosts" follows, and it's easily the most standard-sounding track on the release for the group, sticking to the rolling snare/cymbal and chiming guitar build and rock out moments that have become almost commonplace in the genre.
From there out, the album changes up quite a bit more, with the thirteen-minute "It's Natural To Be Afraid" opening with almost five minutes of hazy feedback and quiet guitar melodies before the fog clears and the group weaves a couple majestic moments in before again ending with backwards loops and e-bowed guitar drones. On two of the last three album tracks, piano figures heavily into the sound, and the results are hit and miss. "What Do You Go Home To?" is a meandering piece that feels like little more than noodling from everyone involved, while the closer of "So Long, Lonesome" builds into a very nice closing section that makes the instrument sound like a natural extension of their music.
Between those two songs is the more aggressive "Catastrophe And The Curve" and the spiraling track is easily one of the best on the album, with graceful arcs that prove there's still some fertile ground to be covered in the genre. Because I've heard so many other artists creating music like this in the time since their last album, I have to admit somewhat tempering my expectations for this release from the group. That said, it pays off big time in places while feeling a bit hesitant in others. Considering the transitionary feel of portions of the album, perhaps that's to be expected. Much better than most groups creating similar music, the album is a must-have for fans of the group and will no doubt be followed-up by a large batch of always-incindiary shows from the group.