Being a self-proclaimed musical elitist, I feel it’s my god-given duty to dismiss anyone whose record collection contains either a soundtrack or a compilation as an ignoramus unworthy of such treats as my undoubtedly fascinating monologue regarding the mid-90s post rock scene. Unfortunately the past year severely curtailed my ability to practice being a sanctimonious shit on these grounds with the release of stellar compilations from the likes of Rock Action and Constellation. And then this; my favourite band have only decided to go and soundtrack a bloody film. I’ll get my coat.
In all honesty, I have no idea what the film Friday Night Lights is about. The artwork would seem to suggest that it has something to do with American football (mainly because it has three footballers on the cover) but then again posters for The Village seemed to suggest that the film wouldn’t be total shite. The inlay also helpfully informs me that the film contains “thematic issues, language (surely a prerequisite), some teen drinking and rough sports action”; the cynic in me feels obliged to point out that a Friday night in Reading contains all of those things too but no one’s made a film about that.
And so through myriad digressions I finally stumble upon the point of this review, namely the music. The majority of material that Explosions In The Sky have contributed is new, with Your Hand In Mine, complete with cursory strings section, being the only nod to their previous work. Having said that, it would also be misleading to suggest that this is anything like a proper album; it’s more a collection of musical interludes that are very obviously intended to be heard in conjunction with the film itself. Consequently what you get are a series of shimmering four-minute compositions that languidly drift out of the speakers. They’re not going anywhere fast (a fact that the sparse use of percussion only serves to emphasise) but neither are they boring and, as a whole, they provide a surprisingly coherent package. The overall effect is actually far more reminiscent of Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s carefully constructed drone than anything Explosions themselves have released and may provide some indication of a new musical direction.
Overall, this is a wonderfully beautiful collection of ambient soundscapes that any fan of post rock should snap up immediately. However Explosions In The Sky virgins would be better advised to pick up either of the two studio albums first as the band have used their major label debut as a platform for their most resolutely left-field work to date. And yes, I admit defeat; I now own a soundtrack. Looks like that post rock monologue could be thrust upon someone sooner than I thought.