It’s nearly impossible to be a “heavy” indie band and not be compared to Mogwai or called “prog.” Scotland’s Aereogramme has the added burden of sharing a home country with Mogwai, so the parallels are inevitable. And I might as well get it out of the way: sometimes they really do sound like Mogwai. But I think I’ll stop myself before I get to prog. Since the dawn of the decade, Aereogramme has been playing “progressive,” yet intensely emotional and heavy indie rock, executed with pomp and with heroism, but without the inherent geeky implications.
With or without teenage symphonies to twelve-sided die, Aereogramme is an ambitious band, and it’s hard not to ignore the ten minute orchestral centerpiece on their new record, Seclusion. In fact, it’s hard not to be annoyed by this particular centerpiece, for it makes up one third of the entire album. It’s surrounded by only five other songs, thereby making Seclusion Aereogramme’s shortest album yet. Still, that one song is the longest in their three-album canon, throws synthesized strings, explosive climaxes and even some throat-bustin’ screaming in to make it that much bigger of a production.
As impressive a midsection as “The Unraveling” is, the five other songs are far more accessible, and avert any signs of “prog” along the way. Opener “Inkwell,” like much of the band’s earlier material, recalls Sunny Day Real Estate in their prime. “Dreams and Bridges” is somewhat more mystical in nature, with appropriately dreamy vocals and guitar effects, yet rocks heartily during the choruses. Still, the volume doesn’t leap as far as one might expect, maintaining a relatively steady level of loud all the way through until the doom metal section at the end, where it becomes even louder.
Curiously included on the album is a cover of The Flaming Lips’ “Lightning Strikes the Postman,” and for what it’s worth, is pretty darned good. If nothing else, the band takes an already great song and avoid diminishing its quality merely by playing a similarly rocking version, albeit one slightly slower and murkier. No prog band that I know would ever include such a thing. Yet, it would have been nice to see a few more songs. But that’s meant to be taken as a compliment guys. Really, a few more “Inkwells,” is that too much to ask?
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.