Explosions in the Sky has always been a self-fulfilling prophecy. Since its very first flier ("Wanted: Sad Triumphant Rock Band"), Austin's signature post-rock outfit harbored an indisputable, trademark sound: crisp, translucent guitar sagas of apocalyptic proportion, with artillery command and euphoric release. The aural cinematography of the group's first two LPs, 2000's How Strange, Innocence and Those Who Tell the Truth Shall Die, Those Who Tell the Truth Shall Live Forever in the next year, introduced the local phenomenon – guitarists Munaf Rayani and Michael James, auxiliary bassist/guitarist Mark Smith, and one-man drum line Christopher Hrasky – before the arc of 2003's The Earth Is Not a Cold Dead Place achieved rare perfection. With the noted exception of melancholic piano ode "So Long, Lonesome," 2007's All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone proved a lateral step, though the accompanying disc of remixes introduced new sonic terrain to the EITS catalog. Follow-up Take Care, Take Care, Take Care largely forgoes the wide-screen expanse of the band's Friday Night Lights film soundtrack (2004) if favor of a more insular experience, casting intrigue in the minute details. Opener "Last Known Surroundings" blossoms in the expected fashion, building from a red sky expanse of sustained guitar to an instantly classic EITS crescendo, while closing three-part drama "Let Me Back In" peaks in a flurry of harmonized arpeggios. In between, the foursome finds new ways to fill the empty spaces, most notably with distant hymnal vocals in "Human Qualities," crumbling, winter ambience on "Be Comfortable, Creature," and various disfigured samples throughout the album. That's mirrored in Hrasky's approach as well, which varies from choppy body percussion in "Human Qualities" to a straight backbeat for "Postcard From 1952." These new elements fuse in "Trembling Hands," where atop looped group chants Hrasky keeps pace with his bandmates' Blue Angels demonstration of cascading guitar figures. Nearly combusting in just 3:31, it's a linear reverie with a nitro heart, and proof that Explosions in the Sky have turned a page. (Explosions in the Sky light ACL Live at the Moody Theater, Friday, June 17.)
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