Explosions In The Sky – Take Care, Take Care, Take Care

April 12th, 2011 by WLOY Staff

As difficult as it is to believe, there was a time in history when Explosions in the Sky’s brand of post-rock was novel, exciting. Then again, other fresh ideas at the time of The Earth Is Not A Cold Dead Place’s release included the launch of iTunes and the U.S. planning an invasion of Iraq… dating the post-rockers, but not as much as the troupe of copy-cats have dated them. Point is, it’s been a while since EITS were in the heyday of sprawling, simplistic, post-rock masterpieces. Oh, how far they’ve fallen. It’s said that necessity is the mother of invention— this makes sense in regards to Take Care, Take Care, Take Care because it’s an album devoid of urgency, emotion, fervor, but most of all, devoid of a want to create something new, better. Take Care displays Explosions in the Sky proving they’re still intent on manipulating the slowly-building crescendo style of post-rock they perfected a decade ago with a single song, “Your Hand In Mine.” Problem is, the formula has its limits. Since The Earth Is Not A Cold Dead Place, the horse has been long-deceased and was being bludgeoned in its grave time and time again (please Mono, put down that club). Take Care adds nothing new to the now-stagnate equation, and Explosions In The Sky are only rendering themselves as redundant as their album title. On the latest lackadaisical venture, they come up short in execution, and thematically EITS merely wallow in the wake of the emotional hard-hitters that made the Texans famous in the first place.

Overly simplistic and lazy, Take Care is an album that wastes no time in revealing itself. “Last Known Surroundings” begins on a low note, with its lethargic tempo and general uninventive nature. The strings, like old men getting up from the recliner, slowly and hesitantly gather to form busier melodies and compositions; but at no point does the song display the band’s compositional skills. I know they exist, somewhere beneath the triteness, but they lie muted under the well-worn clichés that EITS saw fit to include on this track alone. Vague spoken-word sample? Check. (Irritatingly) slow crescendo that fails to truly make a strong presence? Check and check. Thin, overused melodies? Check. It’s not simply that Explosions in the Sky chose the wrong formula and therefore Take Care is irrefutably bad, it’s that they did so with no energy, no chutzpah. Invested into their singular masterpiece, “Your Hand In Mine,” for instance, was a definite human quality that made it one of the most sublime songs of the decade. Rather, the post-rockers are now shadows of their former selves, as that sublimity has morphed into complacency and mundanity. While ‘Last Known Surroundings” seems to be the qualitative nadir of the band’s apparent lack of creativity (they can only go up, from there), the subsequent quintuplet of tracks proves to hold little in terms of redeeming factors. 
Remember when Explosions in the Sky were, well… somewhat explosive? “Trembling Hands” performs the best imitation of their older work (and better yet, it’s condensed into three minutes), but it doesn’t excuse the stagnate, tepid pollution that surrounds it. It succeeds in part because it imitates their past work (namely that of How Strange, Innocence; but on the other hand, there’s not that much differentiation throughout their discography anyway). As sad as that sounds, it’s true. Before, their minimalism achieved significance, it had a plot. On Take Care, there’s a distinct lake thereof. Each song meanders a bit aimlessly and never reaches a destination. There’s such little depth in-between the sad strings and balmy tunes: it’s like the type of movie that just begs viewers to walk out halfway through due to sheer boredom and predictability. Take Care, Take Care, Take Care, or alternatively, “Explosions in the Sky LITE” is a watered-down album that fails to ever achieve any of the beautiful simplicity that so many of their earlier tracks, let alone albums, attained. It’s the same formula, with significantly less results. 
The critical ears of listeners who don’t enjoy Take Care, Take Care, Take Care might hear faults in the more loose-natured compositional styles of the album, the lack of any sort of defining highlight or overarching theme, or perhaps the absolutely atrocious cover that (fittingly) accompanies the album. Rather, whatever the effects, the cause seems to be a lack of drive or motivation from Explosions in the Sky. “Your Hand In Mine” (referred to repeatedly for good reason) was a song that rendered feelings of speechlessness and wonderment, no hyperbole intended. Take Care, Take Care, Take Care couldn’t differ more. Like a cold, dead place, it feels purposeless– even more so due to the forced inclusions like handclaps and gang vocals strewn about haphazardly. There was a point early in the decade when EITS were an exciting gateway: they were a gateway to purely instrument music, to post-rock, to a mesmerizingly emotive track or two. Take Care imitates this gateway band, doorway on cover and all, but loses all sight of where that gateway leads to– in this case, somewhere not worth entering. 

Final Score: 2/5 

Pre-order the album, here: Amazon

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