Release Date: Oct 22, 2012
Record label: Superball Music
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock
Trail Of Dead’s eighth full-length is a blistering jackhammer of fuzzed-out guitars and searing vocals that reminds us that these boys haven’t let their foot off the accelerator since the mid ’90s. A welcome noise to these mandolin and Simon & Garfunkel–influenced days, Lost Songs is anything but: muscular songwriting, enviable melodies, ferocious playing, dazzling production. It’s wondrous catharsis in four-minute segments.
...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead's music has always had a revolutionary fervor, and it only heightened when the band cast off its major-label shackles. Inspired by the state of the world in the early 2010s, they sound more fiery, and timely, than ever on Lost Songs. One of the album's lead tracks, "Up to Infinity," draws its inspiration from the Syrian war; the band dedicated it to jailed Russian punks Pussy Riot.
For all their personnel shuffles, label changes, and changes in stylistic direction, …And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead's signature songs have stuck to the same formula: they begin with a noisy surge that builds until it explodes and dissolves, then embers slowly reignite the flames. It's uncanny how the band's career has followed the same trajectory. After spending their first three albums deftly balancing artistry and aggression, their next two Interscope releases over-reached for rock-operatic opulence and crashed hard.
Review Summary: Back to basics.It’s really a magnificent feeling when things just come together, when everything runs smoothly and without complications. When things just go right. For alternative pariahs …And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead, the past decade since 2002’s seminal Source Tags & Codes has been one long question mark, a series of stops and starts and things generally not going all that right that has been as frustrating as it has been occasionally inspiring (see: ex-guitarist Kevin Allen destroying thousands of dollars worth of electronics in an Austin, TX bar after losing at Guitar Hero).
By now, we should know what to expect from a new …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead album. Where the brain trust of Conrad Keely and Jason Reece is concerned, you can pretty much rely on a throbbing piece of post-hardcore goodness – albeit allowing for some wiggle room depending on whether they're indulging their proggy side or writing straight up belters. Lost Songs, their eighth full-length (released a whole ten years after major label debut Source Tags and Codes) firmly places itself at the 'belter' end of the spectrum.
In the press release for Lost Songs, …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead were thoughtful enough to provide an explanation of the album’s lyrics. It’s a helpful tool when reviewing a band whose music is known just as much for its blood-fisted aggression as it is for its prog-leaning obtusity, both of which are on full display here. First track “Open Doors” deals with human trafficking in Cambodia.
Good on these guys for still doing it, even if “these guys” is really only Conrad Keely, Jason Reece and whomever they’ve got filling in the blanks nowadays. But it’s still impressive, the fact that, like another group with a similar trajectory that recently released its latest not-bad album, …And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead are still around. And they still have something to say, in fact, if their eighth long-player is to be believed.
Austin, TX post-hardcore enthusiasts …And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead have always approached their music in a Deftones-y kind of way, exploring sonic landscapes as if At the Drive-In were hired as Tears for Fears' backing band. If that's the case, then Lost Songs may be their Songs from the Big Chair. Opening with the "Shout"-inspired polyrhythms of "Open Doors," chief songwriters Conrad Keely and Jason Reece take listeners on one of the more complex recordings from the band in recent years.
…Trail Of Dead peaked in 2002 with their raucous and righteous third album ‘Source Tags & Codes’. But success messed them up, and sent the Austin dudes into a creative tailspin. For a decade their vigour was gone. So when frontman Conrad Keely introduced their eighth album by dedicating lead single ‘Up To Infinity’ (about the Syrian civil war) to imprisoned punks Pussy Riot, it felt quite FUCK YEAH.
...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead (whom I will refer to henceforth as Trail of Dead, since AYWKUBTTOD is too ridiculous an acronym to use) have suffered the critical fate that has befallen Mogwai: peaking too early. For many, Mogwai peaked at the very beginning with Young Team, the blueprint for guitar-centric post-rock. Trail of Dead’s breakthrough came in the form of their third LP Source Tags & Codes, a crossover effort of sorts that had just enough prog inflection to rope in fans of hardcore-leaning alternative looking for something out of the ordinary.