Release Date: 4 September 2001
Most of us spend our lives sleepwalking through the daily routines, and sometimes it takes the "Jaws of Life" to rip open the perceptive confines that coincide with a life of ritualism. You awake one morning to the braying tone of your alarm clock and drowsily reach over to turn the damn thing off, only to find that the established procedure for doing so causes no reaction. You press the "Off" button two or three more times to make sure you haven't made an error in judgment as your senses become more acute and your emotions inflame. Something has usurped the authority of logic, shattering your rationalizations of many wildly complex and confounding variables, and schooling you in "possibility."
Explosions in the Sky have elucidated these prevalent truths for me through their epic instrumental lamentations. Though the band are hardly the first iconoclasts of the revered "verse-chorus-verse" formula, theirs is a music of possibility like few others have dared to make. On their debut album, How Strange, Innocence, they brandished a sort of restraint that often teased listeners with visions of the group's capability were they only to let loose. The bandname implies scorching collages of noise, yet most of their crescendos end in plucked strings and comforting, ambient gauze.
On their sophomore effort, the contradictorily titled Those Who Tell the Truth Shall Die, Those Who Tell the Truth Shall Live Forever, the group has recanted on their more unexcitable tendencies, opting to infuse their work with a formerly unseen rawness and intensity. And even if it's not a didactic analysis of what constitutes "music" (such as the Olivia Tremor Control's Black Foliage), it certainly makes for a revelatory listen.
Ambiguity seems to be one of the disc's greater appeals. Depending upon your mood, the album can document good versus evil, existential insignificance versus blissful ignorance, war versus peace, or whatever other contrasting forces best suit your life at the moment. Where so many lyricists fail in exacting the perfect sentiment, Explosions in the Sky have crafted a record comprised solely of ever-changing blanks to be filled in. And though each of these tracks supposedly tells stories, one needs only draw upon their own life to understand the pathos explored. May these songs become a soundtrack to your vanity.
- Kevin Adickes, Pitchfork