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(Neurot Recordings)

I discovered Grails long after their debut Burden Of Hope had been released, yet once I heard it, I only wished I had stumbled upon it sooner. The group took instrumentation that had been done hundreds of times by many groups in the past couple years (especially given the huge amount of 'post rock' releases on the market) and made it unique again somehow. That debut album (which followed-up a couple self-released and out-of-print EPs) was a finely-honed little album of instrumental delight.

Redlights is the difficult follow-up, and the group definitely doesn't take any huge stylistic jumps from their first disc. Basically, you've still got your guitar-based instrumental indie rock music touched with strings, but once again the group brings with it an emotion and sense of dynamics and hooks that make it stand out a bit from the rest of the pack. The album-opener of "Dargai" is pretty much what you'd expect from the group as guitars swell up and frenzy at a couple moments while the rest of the track marches on steadily towards those points.

"The Volunteer" follows with slight changes, and while they're not drastic, they help to keep things interesting. At six minutes, it's one of the longer tracks that the group has done, but by adding horns and stretching out the tension, they make the track feel like Godspeed You! Black Emperor versus Morphine (minus the vocals) or something close to that. The group takes things down a notch overall during the midsection of the album, but it's also at this point that the release unveils some of the strongest work. "Reprieve" is easily one of the prettiest tracks on the album, mixing touching guitars and piano, while the album-titled "Redlight" builds with offset guitar parts and ebowed guitar that all spiral into a dark march.

Like their last album, the album isn't so much a bunch of different songs as much as several different movements on a theme. Overall, the tracks are a bit longer on Redlight, and while they take their time in getting to the destination, they also pay off in bigger ways than the debut. Because of this, it's not quite as immediate as some of their earlier work, but if you enjoy Dirty Three or any of the aforementioned, Grails is another solid outfit that you need to hunt down work by.

Rating: 7.25