Not all who wander are lost. In fact, many wanderers know exactly where they are – in the first two-thirds of a post-rock song. Love or hate it, the “crescendo-core” formula has been a successful one, and Magma Waves are not out to challenge it with their debut …And Who Will Take Care of You Now, a record that finds its groove somewhere in roads well-trodden by the likes of If these Trees Could Talk and God Is an Astronaut. While the heyday of such post-rock titans is now past, the expanse of sound they created has the same appeal as ever; it’s a portrait of the sublime, calming in its repetition yet exhilarating in its drama. An acoustic ocean to swim through, cross, or simply get lost in.
…And Who Will Take Care of You Now (a title hereafter abbreviated to help your page load faster) is not an inventive album, but it is at times a beautiful one. “I Am Afraid of You” sets off from a cerulean introduction into carefully plucked melodies, stirred by tasteful drumming into a constant motion. It never seems to settle into a riff long enough to call it home, but that becomes part of the song’s appeal – it steps always just ahead of you until that payoff at the very end. Magma Waves know how to write a good post-rock song, and it shows across the album. 65daysofstatic‘s less glitchy side gets synthesized in “SCRT,” and the band confidently plunge through its alternating episodes of trepidation and courage.
Later in the album, “Fall of Columbia” provides another excellent example of their comfortable songwriting and puts the spotlight on perhaps my favorite part of the album, an appropriately restrained but constantly lively drum performance, courtesy of kitmaster Dennis Strillinger. When paired with the band’s spacey, delay-riddled leads, Strillinger’s drums create a commendable texture in AWWTCoYN, and in an album where every song is at least seven minutes long, that second-by second topography can’t be overvalued. It’s a joy, then, that the mix of AWWTCoYN is both velvety soft and and unsparing in detail, casting a raking light across every wrinkle and exposing the tiniest shadows in the fabric. The band’s quietest moments are rendered in detail and their most forceful perfomances stand stark against the background. When “Cloak & King” goes from wailing to a delicate melody plucked straight from a Mono album, it’s not a drop in intensity, just a different fold in the canvas.
There’s no catch to AWWTCoYN; the album is unmitigatedly honest and sounds very live. There are a few riffs here and there that I could do without, but Magma Waves never seem to choose a bad riff or awkward chord progression to stick on, making the songs not a bit challenging to listen to. The album’s centerpiece, “Portals,” breaks midway to bare a bassline that’s a bit on the poppy side for my tastes, but immediately dresses it in such beautiful livery that I find it hard to fault. For its entirety, AWWTCoYN swings between soothing and searing, making sure to get its money’s worth from every point between.
It’s the whole post-rock package; AWWTCoYN boasts good songs, tasteful performances, and a charming production job. It’s not a modern classic or overwhelming in any way, but it’s certainly an achievement for the young band and a treat for any who listen to it. As someone who hasn’t paid attention to the post-rock scene in quite a while, this album offered me a soothing change of pace and I’m sure I’ll come back to it when the time is right. It is neither boring nor bathetic, as “post-” albums all too often are, and while it brings nothing new or spectacular to the table, it heaps what it has thick across the surface.