Post War Years were certainly in a festive mood on their 2009 debut album, The Greats and the Happenings. On it, the British quartet performed its best rendition of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, filling the space with twitchy garage rock and blithe rhythms. The sounds were raw, unfettered and downright restive; the group, which seemed influenced by Nineties MTV, kept things cheerful for the duration of its recording.
Overall though, Happenings was too frantic an introduction and failed to resonate long past initial consumption. The band, who recorded the LP in an East London warehouse, came off a bit anxious in their attempt to make a great first impression. 'It sounds like what it is — a lo-fi album that we recorded and produced ourselves,' singer Simon Critten said of Happenings on the band’s website. 'We were only just beginning to learn how to use our instruments at that time and were recording in a small box room in the warehouse.'
Conversely, Post War Years’ new album, Galapagos, is heavier than its previous work. The light edges are darkened with menacing Krautrock, representing a stark creative shift for the band, which took an interest in German electronic music after playing gigs in Barcelona and elsewhere. From the onset, it’s clear that the crew is looking for something sonically grounded. Happenings was a breezy effort from of a group still shaping its artistic focus. Galapagos feels more polished, its dance-heavy aesthetic saturated in European dance music and occasional ‘shoegazing’ ('Volcano', 'Nova').
'Growl', with its quickened pace and optimistic spirit, is Post War old and new: its free-wielding guitar chords and spacious drums evoke the band’s not-so-distant direction. The song harbours an electronic jolt that pushes it from the garage to the stadium. Compare that with “God,” the album’s clear-headed closer. Here, the words suggest a forward-looking notion of prosperity. It’s about getting up, dusting off and embracing greener pastures. "God will find you, hunt you down,” goes a line from the song. Seconds later: “Get on my feet, take control of this city.” It brings to mind the band’s own struggles to stay afloat. The crew almost broke up at one point. There were fights, though everything was resolved.
Still, it’s tough to discern the group’s creative direction. There’s nothing wrong with starting over, but the War Years’ shift leaves one to wonder how long it can sustain the current outlook. Much like German producers Modeselektor and Pantha Du Prince — whom Post War Years have cited as influences for the new record — this transient music is made for dancing. Though with the aforementioned influencers, that intention was clear. Here, it’s uncertain just where the quartet wants to go. Galapagos will definitely keep the party going, though it might not do much more than that.
6Marcus J. Moore's Score