Many years ago, I took a chance and bought three albums on a little upstart label from Canada. At the time, the only band that I'd actually heard on their roster was Godspeed You Black Emperor, but that was good enough for me, and I picked up releases by Exhaust, Sofa, and a group called Do Make Say Think. The rest, as they say, is history, and after a series of steady albums that little unknown group with four verbs as their name became artists that I could simply count on to release great music time in and time out with every album.
Times change a bit, and with seemingly every member of the group participating in about 3 other projects, there was bound to be a period where their other obligations would pull them away. With several members sharing time in the successful Broken Social Scene and other members having children and generally living their lives, it's been almost four years between the release of Winter Hymn Country Hymn Secret Hymn and the long-awaited You, You're A History In Rust. Like previous albums, there are places where the release doesn't sink in on first listen, and yet in most places it's like they haven't skipped a beat.
Opening track "Bound To Be That Way" is a perfect example of the group falling right back into things, as the song mixes gorgeous heavy strums of guitar with more propulsive sections that incorporate everything from banjo to buzzing bass while peaking in two delightful crescendos. "A With Living" follows, and it's a slight curveball, with vocal contributions from Akron/Family that really flesh things out in places while at the same time running a bit overlong at over nine minutes in length.
A nice mixture of upbeat and more measured instrumental work, the release shows off some nice dynamics from the group, with everything from cranked-up guitar workouts like "The Universe" to hushed acoustic guitar and ambience pieces like "A Tender History In Rust." In some ways, the release feels like sort of a fifty-minute compendium of all their work done to date, with songs that have similar feels to different tracks off past albums without sounding directly like anything else they've done before.
As a fan of the group, it's simply hard to argue with propulsive pieces like "Executioner's Blues," which scatters their insanely lush guitar chords and crisp polyrhythms over more guitar parts and synths that cascade and build to gleeful blowouts. Like their previous album, they even end things with a downright poppy track that's upbeat while holding just a hint of resignation (and an insanely loud ending). In the end, You, You're A History In Rust is eight more songs from a group who as mentioned above has become one of the more remarkably consistent and adventurous ones out there, especially considering the crowded playing field that they inhabit. One of my favorite albums so far in this very young year.