Sound — 9
Irish three-piece God Is An Astronaut are perhaps most well known for the synth-drenched euphoria of their 2005 opus 'All Is Violent, All Is Bright', an absolute masterpiece in the eyes of many, including yours truly. Even with last year's more stripped-down 'Far From Refuge', the otherworldly atmosphere of their music is matched by none. The hands-in-the-air, jaw-on-the-floor tradition that has been upheld for their first three albums doesn't seem to kick into gear one your first few times through this one. You can listen and know that the music is good, but something doesn't quite click. Not yet. Then, like a clich post-rock crescendo, everything falls into place and, excusing my vulgarity, the album ejaculates all over your face. Even though the band released it as a single a long time ago, even centrepiece 'No Return' manages to sound even more majestic. It is absolutely bizarre how this album suddenly comes to life, how what at first sounds bland and uninspired can suddenly become so rich and expressive. Maybe it's just me, I don't know. Ultimately though, their instrumental palette is once again churning out great tunes. The chemistry God Is An Astronaut's three members have with each other is phenomenal; inventive rhythms, ethereal soundscapes and even more infectious guitar melodies are abundant. The way that the album is laid out is also worth noting, starting off well, but the sense of grandeur is built slowly as each song unfolds, until the explosive finale of 'Loss', which is so emotive that a few minutes in pretentious silence is required.
Lyrics — 9
One great thing about reviewing instrumental albums is that not all that much effort is required to fill this little box. However, I would like to congratulate God Is An Astronaut on the fact that they brought back the subtle 'oohs' and 'aahs' that lie so naturally over the top of their music. I missed them.
Overall Impression — 9
If you like God Is An Astronaut, you will like this album. It is, in many ways, a halfway meeting point between the saturated electronic tone of 'All Is Violent... ' and 'Far From Refuge's more mature and reserved sound. It is more than just a mash-up of past glories though, as the energy and heaviness behind songs like 'Zodiac' and 'Shores Of Orion' are definitely something new and interesting. 'God Is An Astronaut' isn't a perfect album, it does have a few unfortunately pedestrian songs, but considering how the whole sound of the album morphed so suddenly for me, what do I know?