Red Sparowes: The Fear Is Excruciating, But Therein Lies the Answer

Red Sparowes: The Fear Is Excruciating, But Therein Lies the Answer
Red Sparowes is something of a post-rock supergroup. The bands lineup consists of current and former members of Isis, The VSS, Halifax Pier, The Nocturnes, and Pleasure Forever. On The Fear Is Excruciating, But Therein Lies the Answer, the band’s third full length album, Red Sparowes attempt to create sweeping soundscapes without the use of lyrics.
For a music critic, instrumental albums are the toughest to review. Especially instrumental album by bands like Red Sparowes who feature traditional rock instruments: guitar, bass, and drums. At least with jazz groups there is usually someone on a bombastic instrument like saxophone or trumpet that you know to look for, with traditional rock instruments it’s a little more tricky. Luckily, Red Sparowes give you a hint what to look for; with three guitars in their arsenal, only one is a pedal steel guitar. On tracks like “A Swarm”, the pedal steel guitar acts as a lead vocalist. Its delicate line works as the song’s melody while the other instruments fill-in the background.
On the majority of the album, however, the band works less like a rock combo and more like an orchestra. No instrument is individually emphasized. The instruments work together to put forth a wall-of-sound the same way the London Symphony Orchestra would. The orchestra sound is one that is pleasant but not always attention grabbing. The listener can sways seemingly in-and-out of consciousness as the album plays. There maybe a crescendo that suddenly demands your attention, but for the great majority of the album my mind wandered.
While there was nothing terrible on the album or anything that bored me to tears, the album did have a fair amount of mediocrity. The musicianship is excellent on the album and I’m sure there is a demographic for this type of atmospheric rock but I do not think I’m it. In the end, I can not wholeheartedly recommend the album but I can say that if you like instrumental rock, you will probably enjoy Red Sparowes.
Rating: 7.5/10
MP3: Red Sparowes “A Swarm”
Buy: iTunes or Insound!

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