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5 Popes

My Education
5 Popes
(Self Released)

After last year's amazing Tired Sounds Of, one might think that anything related to Stars Of The Lid would hit the ears like an aural narcotic. That album was so full of warm, sweeping sounds that it could keep me warm if I were trapped in a blizzard without a coat (but somehow managed to have headphones with me). That might be a little bit of an exaggeration, but although My Education shares a member with the above group, they sound nothing alike. In fact, My Education likes to rock out (or, as they mention, 'rocking in is just as good as rocking out'). A bit like Tristeza with less synths or somewhat like Tarentel if you boiled their songs down into slighty shorter songs.

Mixing multiple layers of guitars and enough little flourishes to help round out the edges (strings, glockenspiel, organs, piano, etc), the group is downright dizzying at times, while at others they tighten up the reigns and barrel straight away. Wasting no time getting started, "Concentration Waltz" begins with a simple guitar melody on which percussion and a rumbling bassline slowly meld. Another cascading guitar sound washes over the whole thing, and eventually the track builds into a crescendo that's thunderous enough to most likely even please fans of Godspeed You Black Emperor. "Lesson 3" again works the quiet to loud dynamic, but takes a slightly different road in getting there. Starting out with some nice interplay between guitar and piano, it weaves some pretty melodies together before launching into a blistering build in which all guitars are blazing and the percussion is pounding. It winds down into a quieter section again, adding some vintage organ sounds before launching back into rock-out mode. Running nearly 9 minutes long, it's a back and forth battle, but one the group does pretty well.

The group doesn't simply work the one formula over and over again, though, and that's evident by the hilariously-titled "Nightrider Meets The Waterfall." Taking off right from the start, the track is nearly the inverse of the quietly building opener, going like mad for nearly the full duration of the track while only taking some short, quieter (which is relative given the overall nature of the track) breather moments before bringing it on again.

With only 5 tracks, the disc might look like an EP on the outset, but with a running time of almost 40 minutes, it's actually closer to a full-length. Although there are tons of groups out there doing the instrumental rock thing, My Education is still doing enough things different to stand out from the crowd. They've got a great sense of dynamics, lulling you with a pretty melody before dropping off into rock action, and they use enough variety in their instrumentation that things are kept fresh. At the end of "Crime Story," when the viola and violin are squalling alongside the layers of guitars and pounding drums, it's easy to once again be reminded of the aforementioned GYBE!, but that's not such a bad thing in my book. A touch of all the groups above and even a bit of Mogwai, this is an excellent little release from a group that most people probably haven't heard of.

Rating: 7.5