The Dandelion Wars: We Were Always Loyal To Lost Causes
The key to ambient post-rock is conveying emotion. Despite the songs being controlled and on the quieter side, The Dandelion War conveys plenty of feeling through We Are Always Loyal to Lost Causes. This Oakland, California-based band clearly knows how to build a song with crescendos. Critics have compared their sound to Radiohead, Sigur Ros, and The Antlers. While post-rock may be known for using conventional rock instruments, The Dandelion Wars sneak in some unconventional instruments like maracas, synth strings, xylophone, a violin, and piano. The extra instruments add aural interest. The album’s title was taken from Joyce’s Ulysses and the title of the fifth track, “Bloom,” may be named for one of the main characters. The cover art depicts sea monsters like the ones Odysseus (a.k.a. the original Ulysses) faced on his epic journey home in Greek myth. I expected more feelings of being tossed around in the ocean during a storm based on the cover, but the highs and lows seem too controlled (in a good way.)
I got a little worried on “Drifters,” the second track (the first with vocals) because the plunking electric piano and falsetto, nearly indistinguishable vocals were sounding a little too mellow, but the song picked up and conveyed so much more feeling that I had anticipated. I had the same worries with “A Mi Alrededor,” which I believe means “around me” and is completely in Spanish (though it’s hard to tell, I have no idea what he’s saying in some of those falsettos.) There are a couple of lyric-less ambient songs, “Strange Ghosts” and “Bloom” that build into crescendos. “A Different Heav’n” starts quiet but develops a sultry, exotic sound around the 2:44 mark with maracas, cymbals (or perhaps castanets?), and a different drum rhythm. “The Wanderers and Their Shadows” made me think of Interpol. The dynamic, layered sounds combine well with the strongest vocals on the entire album.
If you’re into post-rock, this is a well-made album. If you’re not into post-rock yet, this may be a good album to ease into it with since many of the songs have distinguishable lyrics and they aren’t completely ambient. Plus, the songs don’t drag on for too long, they each stand alone and are on average about four minutes long.
MP3: The Dandelion Wars “The Wanderers And Their Shadows”
Buy: Deep Elm Digital