In penning a review for the album Hex by Bark Psychosis, famed critic Simon Reynolds coined the term "post rock" for his description of their sound. Although it has been overused to the point of overkill in the decade since then, I still find it a decent term to use as a very, very loose reference towards a genre of music that has seemingly expanded exponentially since then. Hell, the term really doesn't carry any weight to speak of, but it's also one of those labels that people generally tend to recognize fairly well when you use it still.
If you go back and listen to Hex these days, it sounds a bit dated (of course, very little released 10 years ago doesn't). Although I wasn't one of those people who discovered the album close to its release (actually, I finally just got the release within the last year), I do enjoy the release greatly despite the signs of age. People sometimes compare the group to Talk Talk, and although its sometimes reasonable instrumentally, they always struck me as more subdued (mainly because of the more understated vocal style of Graham Sutton versus the more soulful Mark Hollis). Codename: Dustsucker is the first album of new material from Bark Psychosis in nearly 10 years, and as the old adage goes, 'the more things change, the more they stay the same.'
It's not to say that the group hasn't changed their style at all in that time, but it's also remarkable at how little they've changed. While that statement could probably be implied as negative, I'd have to say that after listening to this 9-track, 50-minute effort, it's actually something that's pretty comforting. Despite the onset of digital technology and everything that you could do to deconstruct and reconstruct your sound, Bark Psychosis has simply used the technology to clean up their sound a bit and tweak a few things slightly, leaving the crux of their style intact while improving on their overall craft. The result is an album that feels like it could have been created just about any time in the past 20 years. Oh, and despite a couple questionable spots, it's downright lovely as well...
"From What Is Said To What Is Read" opens the disc and it's pretty much classic Bark Psychosis as gauzy guitar melodies wrap tangle with subdued vocals and a slithering rhythm section. Although it probably should sound nice, the trumpet on the follower of "The Black Meat" simply makes the track sound too dated being paired with organs and harmonica. It's a minor nitpick, though, and one that is quickly erased on the stunning "Miss Abuse," which is probably one of the best tracks on the entire release. Swirling with an absolutely hypnotic mix of instrumentation, the track growls with a sinister bassline at just the right moments, offsetting everything that is subtle about the track and taking it into another place altogether.
What it boils down to is that if you enjoy previous release by the work (yeah, 10 years ago style), you're probably going to enjoy Codename: Dustsucker. The group has pulled little bits of different sounds into their overall style (like the nice chimes and female vocals on "40 Degree Winters"), but interestingly enough have shrugged off a lot of other trickery that has come along in the past 10 years (no glitch anywhere!) and simply gone about creating another nice little album that's in a similar vein to what they were doing before. While other bands have come and gone in that time using a similar formula, Bark Psychosis proves that with this release, they haven't lost touch with what they were one of the originators of.