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We Were Exploding Anyway
LP (12" album, 33 rpm)
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We Were Exploding Anyway
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Vinyl, November 8, 2011
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65daysofstatic - one of the most arresting live acts on the circuit -- arrive at album four reborn. A break in momentum has given them the breathing space necessary to revaluate their artistry and to focus on fresh ambitions. From the underground, over; out of the basements and into the light: this is the Sheffield quartet as you've never heard them before. 65days scored an unlikely hit in 2004 with their debut album, The Fall Of Math. 2005's One Time For All Time, furthered their already enviable reputation. Audiences got larger still. In 2007 they released The Destruction Of Small Ideas - album three was supported not only by domestic treks up motorways and down A roads, but also by worldwide touring alongside The Cure. 2008's We Were Exploding Anyway is 65days anew. Now in a deluxe edition complete with the 'Heavy Sky' EP, and featuring guest vocals from Robert Smith of The Cure, this is not a rock band with a bit of glitch on the side, all guitars with the slightest semblance of high-BPM beat-craft as underlay; it's a not-so-distant dance party, the purest euphoria as earworms that dig deep an nestle tight. It's an arms aloft salute to the thrill of letting yourself go in the tide, and riding that rush 'til it leaves you breathless but so prepared to go around again. We were Exploding Anyway is a game-changer from a band that has only ever followed its own rules, and now they're broken. Don't pick up the pieces. Leave them. Dance over them.
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Not that I don't like the "post rocking" sounds of their previous album. It just got old. Fast.
Luckily, The Destruction of Small Ideas had a nice little seed planted in it, the "techno with live instruments" sound of The Distant & Mechanized Glow of Eastern European Dance Parties. This seed went on to create the overlooked yet insanely good EP of the same name. This became my favorite electronic album, period. I love it, I can't get enough of it, and it gave me hope of better albums to come.
Here is that better album. This is the watershed moment for 65days, because it shows them merging the aggressive rock of their earlier albums with the full-throttle techno of their last EP.
It's an incredible album. So incredible, in fact, that even Robert Smith's vocals can't ruin it or even knock it down a star.
This album doesn't blur the boundary between electronic music and rock music, it demolishes it. And the results are refreshing.
In a recent BBC radio DJ set, 65dos mixed MIA, New Order, trashy pop and a wider range of tastes than their music had previously hinted at and this album really bears witness to that breadth. It's bound to polarize fans: gone is the testosterone-soaked atmosphere, replaced by a bold bright aesthetic perfect for clubs and maybe even stadiums.
Let's start where "We were exploding anyway" ends: "Tiger Girl". Nothing captures the spirit of adventure as well as this thunderous 10 minute epic - sporting a 4-to-the-floor, fully tooled-up techno beat, (somewhat reminiscent of Underworld's "Born Slippy"). Bringing a decade of practice, 65dos know how to amp up the pressure higher and higher, giving you a sense of what might happen in a battle between the Berlin Philharmonic and the Berlin Love Parade. Finally, Pink Floyd guitars crest the wave tips and (I swear to God) cannons show up. It's absolutely huge and fearless. Yeah: we have moved on. You coming?
Right ahead of that (working backwards) "Debutante"; probably the best place to start if you wanted to try out the album - it's a more considered mix of old and new, but utterly radiant all the same. One thing 65dos have learned beyond all their peers is how to mix the energy of a live drum and guitar sound with completely synthesized textures, and the result has a urgency and energy that I can't say I've heard before. 65dos bring the rock band to new places: stealing from pop and baroque, house music and prog-rock. It's also noticeable glitch-free, marking a step away from the stolen Aphex Twin-isms of the past.
I'm obviously not to be trusted - I've fallen hard and heavy for this album: more than any since, say, Loveless. There are thrilling tracks woven right through the 50-minute journey: "Dance Dance Dance" is also an absolute eyes-wide treasure - chiming guitars, 80's synths, beats from now. I'm hearing Prodigy and the goofy charisma of the KLF here. Inevitably, there are traces of 65dos's goth band ancestry in the riffery of "Crash Tactics" and most surprisingly in the appearance of Robert Smith(!) in "Come to Me", but the beauty is in the balance.
This reminds me most of all of when New Order released "Technique" - a decisive break with their (glorious) past and a statement of commitment to the wider world and what was happening now.
If I was forced to look for weaknesses, it is something of a relentless assault - each track makes it to 11 one way or another. If you adored the piano-tinged melancholy moments on "One Time for All Time", this won't be what you were hoping for.