Ten Years #47: Explosions in the Sky

Decade of last.fm scrobbling countdown:
47. Explosions in the Sky (647 plays)
Top track (93 plays): Memorial, from The Earth is Not a Cold Dead Place (2003)
Featured track: Your Hand in Mine, from The Earth is Not a Cold Dead Place (2003)

f#a#oo and Ágætis Byrjun might constitute my first introductions into the diverse world of sound we generalize as post-rock, but Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Sigur Rós both forged unique paths that few if any bands have successfully replicated. When I think of the quintessential sound I associate with the genre, it’s Explosions in the Sky and Mono that first come to mind. (And Isis, for the genre’s metal variant.) I don’t know that any band has so successfully perfected the build-up to explosion formula without ever delving into metal as these guys. (The featured track here accomplishes this in a particularly subtle manner.)

While Memorial is my most played track, I don’t consider it my favorite. That title more rightly belongs to Your Hand in Mine. Their level of quality is so consistent though that nearly any track could have incidentally topped my play chart. Another thing I’ve always found so compelling about these guys is their knack for appropriate titles. This extends beyond a band name that perfectly captures their sound and the most pleasantly optimistic album title I have ever encountered. (The Earth is Not a Cold Dead Place) Their track titles casually reach for the stars, predicting an overload of emotion and imagery that the songs themselves never fail to deliver. It’s amazing how much “A Poor Man’s Memory” and “First Breath After Coma” are enhanced by four simple words. “The Birth and Death of Day” practically names itself. More than any band I have encountered save perhaps Krallice, Explosions in the Sky have mastered the art of employing language as a descriptive subtitle to the thoughts and experiences they directly express through sound. The absurdity of this for Explosions is that they achieve it while remaining an exclusively instrumental band.