Perhaps the most impressive aspect of EF’s new EP Delusions of Grandeur is that, in the span of less than thirty minutes, it makes you seriously contemplate what is going on with this record. This is in no way a bad thing. EF uses everything at their disposable (guitar, drums, horns, vocals, you name it) to draw you in and keep you listening. As post-rock fare this album is magnificent. The buildups are gorgeous and the crescendos, mouth dropping. This is a band that knows how to make beautiful songs and they do just that.
Once a band has that ability to craft beautiful music, they can stick with it and see what happens (Explosions in the Sky). Other bands invent and alter themselves musically (This Will Destroy You). What EF is doing is something that resonates with the new Godspeed You! Black Emperor album; they are using their music to speak. They have the crescendo down. They know the perfect spot to amp up the delay and then kick in the distortion. Those are old concepts. The music has become a conduit of message. But what is that message and is it worth hearing?
What this first track does beautifully is take a sense of personal crisis and suffering and paint a landscape of music around it. The lyrics creep in on painful little waves and speak of “Hollow scenery” and “Falling Autumn leaves.” The sound of the vocals is enough to indicate the sense of loss. The second track is laid out in quiet rumination. Nothing too epic, nothing too subdued. We ride through the thoughts created in that first track.
And then we arrive at the conclusion of this trilogy of tracks. This song will most likely be hailed as the best on the album and for good reasons. The slowly plodding melodic melancholy continues as the track unfolds. A voice creeps in over a minimalist piano melody, telling a story about him as a boy with some other boys who find a hurt foal. As the story unfolds, the narrator drowns the foal, ending its misery. These words are made unbelievably powerful by the slowly rising music placed behind it. The minimalist piano is accompanied by softly chanting voices and clean guitars.
At the end of this debatebly cliché story, we have a story of a boy becoming a man through his decision to drown the foal. The rest of the track grows into the heaviest riffs so far. The chanting choir returns and the guitars blare. The last few minutes of this track are post-rock at their finest. Music made and fused with strong emotion.
This EP by EF shows the ways in which post-rock continually evolves. Is the music itself something brand new and unheard of? Absolutely not. But what the band has done is take a half hour of sound and carved out a story that is not necessitated by words, but by music. Eliminate the vocals and the music keeps the message. Lyrics here are a non-essential guidepost. This isn’t the world’s most original story, but EF fills it with a level of emotion that is almost shocking. When you listen to this EP, do nothing but listen to it. Put aside the world for a bit and let EF tell you a story. 11-9-12
Available on vinyl through Pelagic Records: http://pelagic-records.com/vinyl/
Available digitally on Itunes and streaming on Spotify.