The latest Explosions in the Sky album
Eliza Going ’18
Assistant Arts Editor
When you hear a song for the first time, how do you decide if
you like it? What makes music “good”?
I try to check out Spotify’s “Recommended for You” playlists
when they come out every Monday morning. Spotify uses fancy
algorithms to conglomerate similar users’ music tastes into one
personalized, fresh new mixtape.
Because I usually only love about half of these
recommendations and because I’m impatient, I start each song
somewhere around the 1-minute mark to see if I like it. And if I
do, I put it into a new playlist and then listen to all those songs
I don’t know what I’m looking for at that one-minute mark
in a new song. But whatever it is, it’s the delicious ingredient in
Explosions in the Sky’s ‘The Wilderness’, released April 1.
The title track begins the album slowly and with careful
attention to the classic Explosions in the Sky song structure: long,
patient buildup before an uplifting climax in many different, but
not opposing, layers of music. There’s a nervous, twitchy tension
in this song that keeps you intrigued and makes you excited for
what’s to come.
I could have predicted the title of “Ecstatics.” It ebbs and
flows with the same happy excitement that is so palpable in the
band’s older songs like “Your Hand in Mine.” It is typical of
the strong emotion always expressed in their wordless music.
Without lyrics as a form of communication, Explosions has to
rely solely on these sparkling sounds to show feeling. It totally
“Logic of a Dream” gives me what I’m looking for when I
hear new music. It starts out with lovely lulling notes, few and
far between, like starting a long night of sleep. Soon it turns
into a nightmare, with human voices faintly wailing during a
percussion-heavy thunderstorm. It’s scary and intense and makes
my heart race, but then the song calms down and transitions to a
soft, sunny dream.
There are shadows of those same patterns of wails from the
nightmare, but now in a completely different context: one of
safety, of light and of love.
The transition from fear to comfort is reminiscent of the
harsh ending of the Beatles’ “I Want You” switching to “Here
Comes the Sun” on Abbey Road. Interestingly enough, “Colors
in Space,” a later song on “The Wilderness,” ends the same way
as “I Want You,” abruptly and mid-chord.
The likelihood of a song making my heart race, for me, is
directly proportional to how much I like it. I am definitely setting
myself up for heart problems, but I love the urgency and fear
brought on by “Logic of a Dream.” This effect has proven hard
to find, even in much of the music I listen to.
Throughout the rest of the album, certain songs stand out.
“Tangle Formations,” “Disintegration Anxiety,” and “Colors in
Space” were my other favorites. The album is reminiscent of
some of their best work in the past, rather uniformly following
Explosions’ specific sound. Echo-y, repetitive beats tell a story
in layers, in the music itself and in the progression of the album.
Mojo described “The Wilderness” as “undulating,” which
is absolutely true; some songs on the album are muddled in
sounding very similar to each other. But I dare you to listen to
“Logic of a Dream” and listen to how