The Pirate Ship Quintet – Rope for No-Hopers – 85%

The Pirate Ship Quintet (ep) cover art
The Pirate Ship Quintet set sail from the UK many moons with ago with a crew of simply 5. In place of classic “yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum” pirate songs they bring to the table heavy and dense post-rock featuring non-traditional instruments (trumpet and cello). A follow-up to their 2007 self titled EP, “Rope for No-Hopers” was unearthed in a treasure chest on April and unleashed to the world.

The five track album begins with some clever mixing as guitar work alternates between the left and right channel while the somber strings of a cello fills the rest of the space. The drums are extremely tight and compact sounding and the cymbals seem to be mixed at a much quieter level allowing the guitars to really shine through in the spotlight. The softer valleys in their music really are something to behold as the inclusion of a cello player sets them a part from the rest of the field. In the midst of the build ups near the end of “You’re Next” static crescendo guitar work looms in the background while the cello maintains center stage. The entire track feels as one big tease in that the expectation that a full-scale breakdown is approaching is always prevalent but it never truly comes to form.

“Horse Manifesto” ditches the cello in favor of a sharply aggressive static laden guitar that tears through the track. The song turns even darker when screams fill the background behind the guitar. The pacing quickens as the cello whines in the distance as if to say a storm is coming. The guitar flutters in and out in an panic-esque echoing. As the final minute of the song approaches the layers come together in a powerful finish. The following track, “Dennis Many Times” continues the albums bleak outlook with continued screamo style growls that are emotionally agonizing. The pacing is almost at a crawl until about halfway through the track when guitars explode into the song without warning as the screams intensify. Before your ears can adjust, it’s all gone as the song returns to its slow pacing. This track is 10 minutes of peaks and valleys, highs and lows with slow pace giving way to the unexpected and cello work leading into guitar feedback. One of the truly unique tracks of the year.

“Rope for No-Hopers” is all over the place in terms of raw aggression mixed with bleak beauty but maintains a somber feel of hopelessness. The constantly changing pace kept me on edge throughout the second half of the album as the albums ability to shift gears on a moments notice is certainly a breath of fresh air to post-rock song writing. Occasionally I found the riffs to be lacking substance, particularly the ones that find themselves stuck in the middle ground between the build ups and the full-scale breakdowns. Also, while the vocals fit the album well, the words (if there are any) are completely indistinguishable. I give the band much respect for the albums unique sound and their approach to the post-rock genre. Diversity is key in this genre and The Pirate Ship Quintet are clearly in a class of their own. 7-20-12

Available for about $8 on Bandcamp: http://thepirateshipquintet.bandcamp.com/