By Chris Pacifico
If there's a single band out there today that's synonymous with the term "art rock" it's most assuredly Austin's ...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead. Their ability to merge super anthemic melodies with swirling draperies of post-hardcore is a dynamic all their own.
Their fifth album, So Divided opens up with the power chord rich symphonic boom of "Stand in Silence." Drummer Jason Reese's clanking percussive on "Wasted State of Mind" springs out like a rogue, richly feeding their passionate melodies and a horn arrangement that breaks out of leftfield build and breakdown like Atom Heart Mother-era Pink Floyd. With a growing affinity for campfire choruses, Trail of the Dead has reached the maiden moment in the birth of indie arena rock. The title track showcases Reese's bass drum and cymbals colliding like a violent ocean tide. "Life" contains a jaunty piano downbeat while "Eight Days in Hell" cruises along with a sunshine pop trot.
Some tracks however aren't worth writing home about like the Southern fried "Naked Sun" that is SO un-Trail of the Dead-ish and a cover of Guided By Voices' "Gold Heart Mountain Top Queen Dictionary," which is veers dangerously close to being blasphemous.
So Divided may leave some Trail of the Dead fans behind. They're unlikely to ever top 2002's Source Tags and Codes, an album that remains an immaculate, haphazard masterpiece. So Divided is solid compared to last year's Worlds Apart but it would be wise for this group to kick their creative impetus up a notch on their next album so that that we won't know them by their trail of mixed bags.
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