Sonic Reducer: Micro Reviews Of Bat For Lashes, Godspeed You! Black Emperor And The Soft Moon

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Bat for Lashes’ third full-length release works best when heard in its entirety, as a holistic symphonic experience. The title track perches at the album’s apex, swollen with horns and a male chorus backed by rallying drums reminiscent of a military tattoo; “The Haunted Man” is buffered on the lead end by a starkly anticipatory sound (see single “Laura,” a glammish slow jam) and at its denouement with synth lines that—for better or worse—smack of Giorgio Moroder (see “Rest Your Head”). For songwriter Natasha Khan, the biggest issue here is that these tracks sound just inspired enough by other artists that they veer dangerously close to the realm of imitation. (M. Brianna Stallings)

Godspeed You! Black Emperor ¡Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend! (Constellation)

There comes a point in some bands’ careers when the purpose of a new release is both to keep old fans and somehow also recruit new ones. For Canada’s Godspeed You! Black Emperor, the goal of their droning instrumental post-rock has always been to separate the wheat from the chaff. Their body of work screams, “All aboard that’s going aboard! Not coming? Your loss, pal.” This is GY!BE’s first album in a decade, since 2002’s Yanqui U.X.O. Comprised of just four tracks—two at around six minutes in length and two around 20— Allelujah! is the kind of explosive long-form canoodling listeners find either comforting or completely unlistenable. It’s also one of the best albums of the year. (M. Brianna Stallings)

The Soft Moon Zeros (Captured Tracks)

Soft Moon prime mover Luis Vasquez reportedly let loose screams during the recording of Zeros. That’s impossible to discern from his vocals on the album, which are largely absent and mostly indecipherable prosaic emissions. This 10-part dance floor dirge is the soundtrack to an alternate universe where Factory Records never shuttered and everybody wears too much eyeliner. It’s nice there. Forging proto-punk and dark wave with krautrock and industrial sensibilities, the work is bookended by what might pass for minute-and-a-half horror movie soundtrack excerpts. Exceptional selections include Egyptian musk-scented slitherer “Insides” and cliffhanger “Want” with its broken-circle beat, feral bass and dissonant drone. (Samantha Anne Carrillo)

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