Record Review: Red Sparowes, 'The Fear is Excruciating, But Therein Lies the Answer'

Categories: Record Review
red sparowes album.jpg
The Hype: It took about four years, but LA's epic, instrumental post-rock tribe Red Sparowes (not a typo) unleashed their newest, emotionally charged third album The Fear is Excruciating, But Therein Lies the Answer on Sargent House Records today. It comes just in time for their North American headlining tour.

The Fear... is their first full-length offering since 2006's Every Red Heart Shines Toward the Red Sun. And while plenty of critics have noted it as a slight stylistic departure for the band, we're glad to see that they haven't lost their penchant for deep album titles.

The Judgment: They may have dropped the flowery song titles and deflated some of their lofty, ambient aesthetic, but they've actually started to distinguish where one song ends and a new one begins. Drowned in waves of subtle, swirling guitar effects and rumbling rhythms, the band--featuring Bryant Clifford Meyer of Isis--delivers some pronounced sonic moments to add focus to their bombastic crescendos over the album's eight songs. 

Diving in past the brief, 1:49 opener "Truths Arise," you'll soon see how much easier it is to actually remember lumbering, effects-driven tunes like "In Illusions of Order," when they keep things a little shorter. Red Sparowes' taste for layered and trailing guitar parts reaches an early peak with "Hail of Bombs," luring you in with the prospect of something that sounds like an epic slice of a movie soundtrack.

Yet overall, the band's intentions appear to be inspired less by some big-screen war montage, but rather by a more personal take on songwriting from Meyer and guitarists Andy Arahood (formerly of Angel Hair) and Emma Ruth Rundle (of the Nocturnes). Together, they drive the spiritual mood and melody of the album. All the while, the band's use of lap steel guitar provides some smatterings of Americana flavor in between spacey arrangements  on "A Swarm."

But if you had to download one song off the album and leave the rest, we'd suggest you take a listen to the explosive "Giving Birth to Imagined Saviors." It pretty much encompasses everything you could want from a band like this, minus the agonizing wait for trickling, esoteric twanging to materialize into something interesting.

Download These: "In Illusions of Order," "A Swarm," "Giving Birth to Imagined Saviors"

Grade: A-
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